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India with 2 injury concerns ahead of 3rd test vs Australia

December 23, 2018
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Australian captain Tim Paine, center, and his India counterpart Virat Kohli walk past each other without acknowledgement during the post match interviews following the second cricket test between Australia and India in Perth, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — India offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin remains in doubt for the Melbourne Cricket Ground test beginning Wednesday while left-arm off-spinning allrounder Ravindra Jadeja is also carrying a minor injury.

Ashwin was sidelined with an abdominal strain for the second test in Perth and was missed as Australia won by 146 runs to level the four-test series 1-1.

India coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday said Ashwin, who has 342 test wickets and four test centuries, would be monitored over the next 48 hours.

Left-arm off-spinning allrounder Jadeja would be the most obvious replacement but was also no certainty to play at the typically batsman-friendly MCG.

Shastri said Jadeja needed an injection in his shoulder shortly after he arrived in Australia and the team management had opted not to risk playing him in Perth.

India instead selected four fast bowlers, a decision that was widely criticized when Australia offspinner Nathan Lyon took eight wickets and claimed man of the match honors.

“When you look at Perth, we felt (Jadeja) was about 70 to 80 percent fit and we didn’t want to risk that in Perth,” Shastri said. “He still felt stiff in the shoulder when he came here and he was injected again, and it takes time to settle.”

Hardik Pandya has been declared fit after he missed the first two tests and could replace Hanuma Vihari at No. 6, although Shastri said the highly-rated seam-bowling allrounder had only played one first-class game since September.

The other option would be to recall Rohit Sharma, who has progressed well after he jarred his back while fielding in the first test in Adelaide that India won by 31 runs.

Australia has named the same squad it had for the Perth test. Captain Tim Paine is expected to finalize his XI on Tuesday.

On Sunday, opener Aaron Finch, who retired hurt in the Perth test after being hit on his right index finger, said he would be a certain starter in Melbourne.

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