MELBOURNE - India spin ace Ravichandran Ashwin remains an injury concern for the Domain Boxing Day Test, while fellow tweaker Ravindra Jadeja is also carrying a niggle.

Ashwin was sidelined with an abdominal strain for the second Test in Perth and was missed as Australia won by 146 runs to level the series 1-1. India coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday said the off-spinner, who boasts 342 wickets and four Test centuries, would be monitored over the next 48 hours.

Left-arm off-spinning allrounder Jadeja would be the most obvious replacement but was also no certainty to play at the typically batsman-friendly MCG. Shastri revealed Jadeja had needed an injection in his shoulder shortly after he arrived in Australia and the team management had opted not to risk playing him in Perth.

India instead selected four quicks, a decision that was widely panned when Australia’s offspinner Nathan Lyon claimed man of the match honours. “When you look at Perth, we felt (Jadeja) was about 70-80 per cent fit and we didn’t want to risk that in Perth,” Shastri told reporters. “If he was 80 per cent fit here, he (would) play. He had taken an injection even in India but he played domestic cricket after that.”

 He still felt stiff in the shoulder when he came here and he was injected again, and it takes time to settle. It took longer than we expected, hence we had to be careful. The last thing we wanted was someone breaking down after five or 10 overs and then we are stuck for players to pick for Melbourne or Sydney. We’ll have to evaluate (his) fitness over a 24-hour period and take it one step from there, and also (evaluate) the conditions.”

Hardik Pandya has been declared fit after he missed the first two Tests and could replace Hanuma Vihari at No.6, although Shastri noted the highly-rated seam-bowling allrounder had only played one first-class game since September.

The other option would be to recall Rohit Sharma, who has progressed well after he jarred his back while fielding in Adelaide. India were also considering if opener Mayank Agarwal should debut with incumbents KL Rahul and Murali Vijay averaging 12.00 and 12.25 for the series respectively.

“It’s a big concern,” Shastri said. “That accountability has to be taken by the top order and I’m sure they’ve got the experience, they’ve got the exposure over the last few years to get out there and deliver.”