Leeds | Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was today named in the 18-member Indian squad for the first three Tests against England, but senior batsman Rohit Sharma was once again ignored for the five-day format.
The 20-year-old Pant has been named as the specialist wicketkeeper-batsman alongside Dinesh Karthik, who had played the team’s last Test against Afghanistan in the absence of an injured Wriddhiman Saha.
Saha continues to be out nursing a thumb injury sustained during the IPL earlier this year.
Pacer Mohammad Shami, who was dropped from the one-off game against Afghanistan after failing the YoYo test, has regained full fitness and has made his way back for the five-match series starting August 1.
However, there is uncertainly over the participation of key pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the five-match series after he aggravated a “lower back condition” during the third ODI against England yesterday.
“His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” said the BCCI in a statement.
Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who was unfit for the ODI series, will be available for selection from the second Test onwards, the statement added.
The sole fresh face in the squad is Pant, who has finally been rewarded for his domestic performances, including the IPL.
The selectors, who picked the squad here today, had the option of bringing back an in-form Rohit into the side but they went for infusing young blood instead.
He averages 54.16 in 22 First-Class games with a triple century and India’s fastest hundred at that level to his name. He was only 19 when he amassed a stupendous 308 against Maharashtra in the 2016-17 season.
Adjusting to the English conditions won’t be an issue for Pant as he has already been there with the A team in England for a month.
He had made an unbeaten 67 off 71 in the second unofficial Test against West Indies A at Taunton last week, helping his team pull off a five-wicket victory and the series win.
The hard-hitting left-hander, who has played four T20 Internationals, is currently playing the one-off unofficial Test against England Lions at Worcester.
The other three members of the Test squad — opener Murali Vijay, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair — are also part of the India A side playing in Worcester.
Nair has managed to retain his place in the team and so has Shardul Thakur, who both did not make the playing eleven in the Afghanistan Test.
Though skipper Virat Kohli had hinted a possible change in the spin department, the selectors have acted on expected lines by picking Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who produced some outstanding spells in the preceding T20 and ODI series against England.
Given Kuldeep’s recent success, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod in the playing eleven.
Besides Shami, Bumrah and Shardul; Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are the other pacers in the squad.
There is no major surprise in the batting department other than Rohit’s exclusion. The opener, who was dropped after playing the first two Tests against South Africa, was earlier not named in the squad for the one-off game against Afghanistan.
However, he has been in fine form on the UK tour so far and scored consecutive hundreds in the series-deciding T20 against England and the following ODI series opener.
The selection committee also named the Board President XI team that is scheduled to play a three-day warm-up game against South Africa ‘A’ in Belgaum from July 30. This team would be led by wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan.
India’s squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.
BP XI for warm-up fixture against South Africa A’: Ishan Kishan (C & WK), RR Sanjay, AR Eshwaran, Dhruv Shorey, Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui, Jalaj Saxena, Siddhesh Lad, Mihir Hirwani, DA Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Shivam Mavi, Ishaan Porel, Atith Seth.