India shifts focus to the red ball

Determined to leave behind the embarrassing defeat in the series-opener, the Indian team, under stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, switched its focus to red-ball cricket on Wednesday with Shubman Gill and others grinding it out during a net session ahead of the Boxing Day Test.

Gill, who was not considered for the opening Test despite scoring 43 and 65 in the pink-ball warm-up match, looked in good nick as he honed his skills along with Mayank Agarwal at the nets, indicating that the duo could be the opening combination for the second Test.

The 21-year-old could be favoured over struggling Prithvi Shaw, who returned with scores of 0 and 4 in the two innings at Adelaide.

K.L. Rahul, who received the backing of Sunil Gavaskar for the opening slot, had a long stint at the nets as well.

Also back at the nets was spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who had missed the first Test due to concussion.

Jadeja went for an hour-long spell at the nets during which he bowled to his Saurashtra teammate Cheteshwar Pujara. He again returned for a second stint later, an indication that he could be included in the playing XI for the Boxing Day Test.

The practice session began with head coach Ravi Shastri giving a pep talk to the team members at the MCG.

Shastri also had a chat with Rishabh Pant, who came out to bat at the nets ahead of Wriddhiman Saha.

Pant, who had smashed a 73-ball 103 in the warm-up, may replace Shah in second Test.

With Mohammed Shami ruled out of the remainder of the series with a fractured forearm, Mohammad Siraj and Navdeep Saini were seen bowling to Rahane alongside Shardul Thakur as the trio look to stake claim for the third pacer’s slot.

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