India retain Vijay; Pandya out injured
M Vijay, the India opener, has kept his place in the squad for the final two Tests against Australia. He had picked up an injury to his left shoulder while fielding in Pune and had to miss the Bengaluru Test, but with a week left until the start of the next one in Ranchi, he appears to have time to recover and become the 29th Indian to 50 Test caps.
Allrounder Hardik Pandya, who has shoulder troubles of his own, was the only player to be cut from the 16-man squad chosen at the start of the tour.
Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami, who have recovered from protracted thigh and knee problems respectively, have played List A cricket over the past week but they are yet to prove their fitness over the course of a first-class match; that could perhaps be the reason they have not been picked here.
Head coach Anil Kumble had stressed on a protocol by which first-choice picks could walk back into the XI after injury provided they play the same format in domestic cricket and prove their fitness. Rohit made 4 and 16 for Mumbai in one-day cricket while Shami picked up 0 for 36 for Bengal and practiced with the Indian team at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, though he mostly bowled off a short run-up.
India retained Abhinav Mukund as the third opener despite his underwhelming returns in the second Test; he made 0 and 16 in his first international game in over five years. The extra opener is especially needed given the recent niggles for their top-order batsmen - apart from Vijay's injury, Rahul's left shoulder caused him some concern in Pune and Cheteshwar Pujara said he had to fight a sore neck during his match-winning 92 in Bengaluru.
India's bowling line-up was unchanged. Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuneshwar Kumar were the seamers. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, both No. 1 on the ICC rankings for Test bowlers, led the spin department which also includes offspinner Jayant Yadav and left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav.
The series is square at 1-1 and is set to resume on March 16 with the first Test ever to be played in Ranchi. Then Dharamsala makes its debut on March 25.