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Cricket: India spinners in race to be fit for Boxing Day test

India coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday (December 23) said that offspinner Ashwin was still recovering from an abdominal strain that caused him to miss the second test in Perth, while left-arm spinner Jadeja had been nursing a shoulder problem.

Shastri revealed that Jadeja’s injury had also ruled him out at Perth, where India went with a four-prong pace attack and duly slumped to a 146-run loss that levelled the four-test series 1-1.

“The problem with Jaddu (Jadeja) is that he had taken an injection four days into coming to Australia, because of some stiffness in the shoulder and it took a while for that injection to settle down,” Shastri told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

“So, when you look at Perth, you know, we felt that he was about 70-80 percent, you know, fit and that we didn’t want to risk that in Perth. If he was 80 percent fit here (MCG), he will play.”

Ashwin, meanwhile, needed to be evaluated over the next 48 hours, the coach said.

The injuries could open the door for left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who played the last of his five tests against West Indies at Hyderabad.

With the series level at 1-1, the focus has now shifted to the MCG, the venue for the Boxing Day encounter. The MCG pitch offered little for bowlers of any stripe in the drawn Ashes test last year, being rated “poor” by the International Cricket Council in an embarrassment for the organisers.

“It was pretty docile and it didn’t do anything for five days,” said Australian bowler Mitchell Starc. “Marcus Harris and a few of the Victorians played that game and had a bit of a chat with us about how that played out,” he added.

“So, if it’s going down that track, we will be sort of got a little bit of an idea about how it might play but again it’s adjusting to conditions when we get out there and how it goes in those five days of cricket,” said Starc on the Melbourne pitch.

The Indian and Australian squad will face off each other on December 26 for their test third match for the ongoing series in Melbourne.

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