Ashwin doubtful as India coach demands openers step up

Melbourne: Ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin remains an injury doubt for the third Test against Australia, India coach Ravi Shastri said on Sunday as he demanded his opening batsmen step up to ease pressure on Virat Kohli. Ashwin was sidelined with an abdominal strain for the second Test in Perth and was sorely missed as Australia, led by off-spinner Nathan Lyon, won by 146 runs to level the series 1-1. Shastri revealed Ashwin is racing the clock to be ready for the crunch Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, where the stakes are high in the four-Test series. “As far as Ashwin is concerned, we are going to take a look and evaluate over the next 48 hours,” Shastri said.
Left-arm off-spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is also carrying a niggle, but experienced batsman Rohit Sharma, who also missed Perth after hurting his lower back, is fit again. “He has made a very good improvement but then again we have got to see how he pulls up tomorrow. But he looks good as of today,” said Shastri. India go into the Melbourne showdown with Kohli and number three Cheteshwar Pujara is fine form, effectively carrying their team during the Adelaide and Perth games. But the opening pair of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay have struggled for runs and Shastri said that needed to change. “It’s a big concern,” he said when asked about the failure of the openers to get a big score. “It’s obvious and that responsibility and accountability has to be taken by the top order. — AFP