Australia v India, 2nd Test, Perth December 13, 2018

A possible third for India: four quicks, no spin

R Ashwin high fives Virat Kohli © Getty Images

India could, for only the third time in their history, go into a Test match without a specialist spinner. If they do so, in Perth, it could be the second time this year, both under Virat Kohli. The change is partly down to injury to R Ashwin, who was the joint-highest wicket-taker for India in their Adelaide win. However, there is a good chance India might not replace the spinner with a spinner because captain Virat Kohli has assessed the pitch to be hard and bouncy, with a lot of grass to boot.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar becomes a frontrunner not just because of the green grass but also because he can bat a bit. Ashwin scored a crucial 25 in Adelaide in partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara to shore India up in the first innings. The choice is between Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar.

India are having to tinker with their winning combination from Adelaide with Rohit Sharma and Ashwin ruled out with back and abdominal injuries respectively. Prithvi Shaw is yet to recover from the ankle injury he picked up during the warm-up game in Sydney.

Jadeja, Umesh and Bhuvneshwar were drafted into the XIII named for the second Test.

Hanuma Vihari is the likely like-for-like replacement for the sixth batsman, Rohit. The incumbent openers, KL Rahul and M Vijay, should retain their spots.

The green pitch, "the bounciest possible" according to the curator, has everyone talking, and there has to be a temptation to play a fourth quick. However, there might also be grounds for playing a bowler who can bat. Bhuvneshwar becomes the favourite in that case.

India had played four fast bowlers plus Hardik Pandya on the brutish Johannesburg surface earlier this year, winning the Test after having lost the series. Kohli was reminded of that Test when he looked at the pitch at the new Perth Stadium, but said he had never played on anything like the Wanderers track. That experience, he said, also gave them belief - "we are excited more than nervous looking at such pitches" - they can double the lead in Perth. Holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, they could book its return flight if they do so.

Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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