Australia (from): Tim Paine (captain), Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Aaron Finch, Marnus Labuschagne, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Mitch Marsh, Peter Siddle. Interestingly, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, the other two spinners in the squad of 18, were also included in the thirteen.
It's mostly a dubious call because the alibi for getting Labuschagne into the team was because he can bowl leg-spin, and Justin Langer and co. wanted another bowling option.
But the Board of Control for Cricket in India released a 13-man squad, including Ashwin and excluding paceman Ishant Sharma, two hours later and said it would be trimmed before the toss. But they have done it this time around.
"I'm sure if he does [play], he's an excellent player of spin and contributes a lot to the group in the field and around the team". Cheteshwar Pujara has been pivotal for India as he has been part of six fifty-plus stands for India out of 11 which makes him more unsafe at Sydney as he is also a good player of spin.
"We saw in the UAE his leg-spin's improved out of sight, and you're nearly leaning towards him at test level now as a bit of an all-round option, which is a really good package for us". Kohli made comments about the possible absence of frontline spinner Ashwin, who missed the second and third tests after straining his abdomen while playing a key role in his team's victory in the first test in Adelaide last month. The visitors however suffered a massive blow on Wednesday in the form of their premier off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who has been ruled out of the 4th test after failing to prove his fitness for the match. Sydney, though, has not been a happy ground for India as they have lost five of the 11 Tests played here and managed to win just one way back in 1978. He also didn't play in the Boxing Day Test at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground but there were hopes that he would be cleared to play at Sydney, where the pitch usually favours spinners like him.
"So there are two things to it. we are not getting enough runs in our top order because if we do we know how unsafe Mitch can be".
Despite the absence of two of their most prolific run-scorers - Steve Smith and David Warner, the duo that had scored almost 40% of the team's total during India's visit to Australia in 2014 - credit must be given to Kohli's men if they go on to win the ongoing series, considering the history attached to the encounters between the two teams.