India vs England, 5th Test: Debut for Vihari, Jadeja replaces Ashwin as England bat
Hanuma Vihari has become India's 292nd Test player. (BCCI Twitter)

For the fifth time in the series, England captain Joe Root called it right at the toss and opted to bat against India at the Oval on Friday. While England went in with an unchanged side, India rang in a couple of changes, highlight being a Test debut for Hanuma Vihari, replacing allrounder Hardik Pandya. The other change, a forced one as Virat Kohli put it, was the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja for R Ashwin, who has aggravated the hip injury he picked up during the third Test.

Vihari, who became the 292nd Test player for India, surprisingly, got the nod ahead of Karun Nair, who has been part of the squad from the beginning of the series.

Vihari, 24, who will ply his trade for Andhra this Ranji season moving from Hyderabad, boasts a first-class average of 59.94 – the highest among active cricketers. He was the fifth highest run-getter in the 2017-18 season scoring 752 runs at an average of 94.00, including a highest score of 302 not out against Odisha, his maiden triple hundred. In the Irani Trophy, he top-scored with 183 for Rest of India. During India A’s tour of England, Vihari had amassed 410 runs in six matches at an average of 51.25.

In the recently concluded Tri-series featuring England Lions, India A and West Indies A, Vihari had scored 253 List A runs in three matches. More recently, against South Africa A in Bengaluru, VIhari hit a match-winning 148.

Vihari has been a regular when it comes to spending cricket summer in England. During the 2014 and 2015 season, he played for Hutton CC in the Shepherd Neame Essex First Division League, scoring six centuries.

“I need heads on both the sides. That is the only way I would win the toss,” Kohli said after losing his fifth toss of the series. “First session will be tough. There is grass on the pitch. One change is forced. Ashwin is out, Jadeja replaces him. Hanuman Vihari comes in the place of Hardik Pandya. He is an exciting prospect. He averages close to 60 in first-class cricket. It has been tough for the openers in the series. Conditions have been very tough. Cook has been a great player. What he has done is outstanding. He will go out as one of the greatest openers in the Test cricket. ”

India (Playing XI): Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

England (Playing XI): Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Moeen Ali, Joe Root(c), Jonny Bairstow(w), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson