Dhoni to join team ahead of first Test

Skipper unlikely to take part in practice match

Dhoni to join team ahead of first Test

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to join the team ahead of the rescheduled first Test, commencing here on December 9.

Owing to a hand injury, Dhoni had not been named in the original squad for the first Test, earlier scheduled to be played in Brisbane from December 4. He was earlier expected to join the team for the ‘second Test’ in Adelaide, which was originally starting on December 12.

The tragic demise of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes resulted in the rescheduling of the four-match Test series. Thus, now the Indian captain will be able to join the team sometime this week, before the Test series begins.

As per the new schedule released by Cricket Australia late on Monday night, the first Test of the four-match series will now be played in Adelaide from December 9-12.

The Indian team will be playing its second practice match at the Glenelg Oval in sub-urban Adelaide ahead of the first Test. It will be a two-day game, beginning December 4.

The opposition for that tie will be another Cricket Australia XI, though it will expectantly be devoid of any big names since the players are in mourning. India’s second tour-game had got cancelled after Hughes’ death.

Dhoni, however, will be unavailable for the practice game as he is not likely to join before December 4.

Indian team spokesperson RN Baba said that the skipper, though, will join the team well ahead of the first Test, which means stand-in captain Virat Kohli will not lead the side when the series gets underway at the Adelaide Oval.

Meanwhile, Kohli will be attending Hughes’ funeral in the late cricketer’s home-town, Macksville on Wednesday. He will be joined by batsmen Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay, along with team director Ravi Shastri, coach Duncan Fletcher and team manager Arshad Ayub.The team management expects Kohli, Sharma and Vijay to return in time for the two-day tour game, which is scheduled on Thursday.

Meanwhile, there will be obvious speculation about Australian skipper Michael Clarke’s participation in the first Test. He had earlier been included in the original squad for the Brisbane Test pending a fitness test, but a small controversy had erupted that saw him at loggerheads with the national selectors over the issue.

National selector Mark Waugh had revealed that Hughes would have been in contention for a Test return if Clarke had been sidelined due to lack of fitness.

Hughes’ death put that issue on the back-burner like everything else, and Clarke has been a great leader off the pitch for Cricket Australia in this time of tragedy. However, it has also not given him any time for rehabilitation and thus, his participation in the opening Test is still a big question mark.

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