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Rahul, Shami expected to be fit

Anil Kumble praised India's pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami Associated Press

The most satisfying aspect of the 2-0 series lead for India will be that they haven't always had their best XI available. They have played only one of the three Tests with first-choice openers. They lost their No. 1 wicketkeeper after the second Test, and the leading fast bowler has been fighting a niggle through the series. When they went into a week-long break, thanks to an early finish to the Mohali Test, India had a dodgy M Vijay added back to the catalogue.

Two days before the Mumbai Test, though, India took to training with fewer doubts than they had in Mohali. KL Rahul, who took a blow on the arm when fielding in Visakhapatnam, was back in the nets, taking the first hit. Vijay looked in a better space as he had a long net session too. While Mohammed Shami didn't train on Tuesday, India don't have a major concern over him right now.

India's coach Anil Kumble addressed a press conference before the start of their training session at Wankhede Stadium, but he was confident about Rahul's fitness. "I am sure Rahul will have a hit today and will be fine, let's see how it goes," Kumble said.

Kumble did speak about managing Shami's workload, though. "Workload is something that we monitor, especially Shami, because he came back after 18 months after being away from the game," Kumble said. "It is not easy for any cricketer so that is something we are constantly monitoring. It is quite a challenge when you only have a three-to-four day gap between Test matches. And this series has gone till the last day so it is important that these guys are given enough breaks

"Credit to the way Shami and Umesh [Yadav] have bowled, not just with the new ball but also the way they have been able to come back and bowl in the last hour of the day. Coming back in the third spell or probably sometimes the fourth spell, and rattling the batsmen and picking up wickets is something I am pleased about."

If Shami is indeed rested, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took a five-for in his last Test, is not a bad replacement to be waiting in the wings. "It is not just the two of them [Shami and Umesh] but Bhuvi, Ishant [Sharma], all of them have contributed significantly," Kumble said. "To have someone like Bhuvi and Ishant sitting out is a credit to the way Umesh and Shami have bowled."

Ishant won't be available for this Test because he is getting married on December 9. A sign of India's confidence in Shami's fitness could be that they have not asked for a replacement for Ishant. In Mohali, India had four quicks in the squad because Shami was not a certain starter.

The one compromise India will have to make is to go in without the first-choice wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, but his replacement Parthiv Patel more than made up for Saha's absence, especially by volunteering to open when Rahul aggravated his injury from Visakhapatnam. Kumble was all praise for his wicketkeeper for the Mumbai Test.

"He came in as a 16 or 17-year-old and now - when he still looks 16 without the beard - he has showed a lot of maturity," Kumble said. "He saved the [Trent Bridge] Test match for India. It certainly shows that if you are really putting in the hard yards in domestic cricket, never losing your faith and believing that you can come back into the Indian team, then it is possible.

"I was really pleased that he could walk into the match and not just keep wicket and bat at six or seven but when he was asked to open, he put his hand up and did that really well. That goes to show not just the individual but the character of the player and to say - team comes above self. He was not worried about failing. When you are coming into the team, making a comeback after eight years, you always want to do well for yourself but here was Parthiv who was willing to put his hand up and said 'I don't mind opening'. And he did that really well."

If all goes to plan, India are set to make just the one change to the side that won in Mohali: Rahul coming in, Parthiv dropping down in the order, and Karun Nair being asked to wait for a longer run. India should continue with five bowlers because the pitch at Wankhede Stadium didn't look exceptionally dry although it is expected to turn eventually, as Indian pitches are.