KL Rahul named in India’s 13, Umesh Yadav takes Ishant Sharma’s place
KL Rahul was dropped after the Perth Test. © AFP

With Rohit Sharma back in India for the birth of his daughter, India have handed KL Rahul a potential lifeline as Test opener by naming him in their squad of 13 for the fourth and final match versus Australia in Sydney.

Rahul was dropped from India’s team for the recent MCG Test after managing 49 runs in four innings on tour to close out a forgettable 2018, in which he averaged 22.28 with one century and one half-century. Now that he has been named in India’s 13, it is likely that India play Rahul as opener and push Hanuma Vihari back to No 6 where he batted in Perth.

At the MCG, Vihari opened with the debutant Mayank Agarwal, scoring 8 off 66 balls and 13 off 45. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Virat Kohli singled out Vihari’s part-time spin as vital on an SCG surface that is expected to take turn.

”Vihari has looked like picking up a wicket every time he comes on to bowl. We are looking at him as a solid bowling option now, especially in this Test match,” said Kohli.

Though Kohli earlier told reporters that R Ashwin was not available for selection, the BCCI later named the offspinner in India’s 13. Ravindra Jadeja, who played the third Test at the MCG where he took five wickets, Kuldeep Yadav and Vihari are the other spin-bowling options for India.

Umesh Yadav is also part of India’s 13, taking the place of Ishant Sharma for the final Test. Ishant played all three Tests and claimed 11 wickets at 23.81 apiece. Umesh took Ashwin’s place as the fourth fast bowler in Perth, where India lost, and managed two wickets in 37 overs.

India’s 13 for SCG Test: Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane (v/c), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav