Indian Ashwin in doubt for Boxing Day Test

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India were without injured off-spinner Ravi Ashwin - who has an abdominal strain - in the Perth Test which Australia won comfortably to level the series 1-1.

Shastri didn't take any names but in his inimitable style rubbished all criticism, making it evident that he has not taken it too well.

"When you're millions of miles way, it's easy to fire blanks", Shastri said. "As far as we're concerned, he's an absolute gentleman".

He described him as "not only the world's best batsman, but also the world's worst behaved player", with the mass-circulation Hindustan Times saying it articulated what many Indian cricket fans had been thinking.

Hardik Pandya has been declared fit after he missed the first two tests and could replace Hanuma Vihari at No. 6, although Shastri said the highly-rated seam-bowling allrounder had only played one first-class game since September. However, Jadeja had fielded for about 40 overs as a substitute in the second Test match and had not shown any signs of a shoulder concern, at least while fielding.

"I loved watching that".

"The more we can look after those guys the better. this is the only Test we are looking at but we aware there are back-to-back Tests, which is tough", Langer said.

And Shastri, not surprisingly, sided with Border's assessment on Sunday when quizzed by reporters about Kohli.

"He was fantastic. What is wrong with his behaviour?"

While Shastri said Jadeja was suffering from his shoulder injury in India, his domestic coach at Saurashtra, Sitanshu Kotak, countered that by claiming the left-arm tweaker was fine when he left for Australia.

But the biggest problem that India is facing at the moment is the form of its openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul.

"It's obvious and that responsibility and accountability has to be taken by the top order", he said.

"Look, it doesn't matter what pitch you prepared previous year and what rating you get", Mr Page said. Rahul gets out only because of poor shot selection and if he figures it out he can play a good innings. He has got loads of runs for India "A". He looks good as of today. Yes, sometimes it is important to take your time, but we have (Cheteshwar) Pujara who is taking his time and building an innings.

New curator Matt Page has tried to inject more life into the ground's pitches and Siddle was optimistic that the series against India, now tied at 1-1, would not still be level ahead of the final match in Sydney.

"When the BCCI sent out a media release with a fitness bulletin on eve of the Perth Test, it didn't even include Jadeja's status", Monga wrote.

"Although there's some grass and moisture (in Melbourne) we also know the history of it".

Firebrand captain Kohli has, as ever, been in the heat of the battle during the first two tests of the series.

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