India lose Ashwin, Sharma to injuries for 2nd Australia test

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Man of the match India's Cheteshwar Pujara signs autographs for fans after his team's 31 run win over Australia to win the first cricket test in Adelaide, Australia, Monday, Dec. 10. (AP Photo/James Elsby)
Man of the match India’s Cheteshwar Pujara signs autographs for fans after his team’s 31 run win over Australia to win the first cricket test in Adelaide, Australia, Monday, Dec. 10. (AP Photo/James Elsby)

Perth, Australia (AP) — It’s predictable to forecast bowling attacks featuring four fast bowlers for a cricket test in Perth, where the pitch has traditionally offered extra pace and bounce.

Usually, though, the discussion revolves around an Australian battery of quicks and rarely would that prospect extend to India’s attack.

But with offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin ruled out of the second test because of a side strain, Indian selectors are considering it. Australia, meanwhile, confirmed their starting XI on Thursday and stayed with three frontline pace bowlers and offspinner Nathan Lyon.

Nobody really knows 100 percent what the wicket will do at the new stadium in Perth, which is being used for the first time in a test match and is within sight of the famed old WACA ground. Curator Brett Sipthorpe has been trying to prepare a wicket to imitate the conditions at the WACA.

India won the series-opening test in Australia for the first time earlier in the week, holding on for a 31-run victory late on day five in Adelaide. A win in the second of four tests would ensure Virat Kohli’s lineup retains the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and put India in an ideal position to clinch their first-ever test series in Australia.

But the win in Adelaide came at a cost for the visiting squad, with Ashwin injuring his left abdomen as he bowled 52 overs in the last innings and batsman Rohit Sharma jarring his back while fielding. Teenage top-order batsman Prithvi Shaw remains unavailable because of an ankle injury he sustained before the series.

Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been included in a 13-man squad, along with first-test pacemen Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah — heightening speculation about the four-pronged pace attack — and spinning allrounder Hanuma Vihari is a potential replacement for Rohit Sharma.