BENGALURU, JULY 19,
Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav have been named in India’s squad for the first three Tests against England.
The All-India Senior Selection Committee, which met in Leeds on Wednesday to finalise the side, decided against including Rohit Sharma, with Karun Nair retaining his spot as the additional middle-order batsman.
During the ODI series, Virat Kohli had spoken of “a few surprises” in the Test team, suggesting that India might “be tempted” to include both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep. In the event, only the latter made the cut, having tormented England in the ODI and T20 series.The only surprises were of the bad sort, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar left out of the squad with an injury. The BCCI stated in a release that he had “aggravated a lower back condition” during the third ODI at Headingley and would be assessed by the team’s medical staff before a decision on his inclusion was made.
Rehabilitation at NCA
Bhuvneshwar is unlikely to be fit for at least the early part of the tour, however, with chief selector M.S.K. Prasad telling The Hindu that Bhuvneshwar would be returning to India for rehabilitation at the NCA. “I can’t comment on his fitness; but we will definitely miss him,” Prasad said. Bhuvneshwar was India’s best bowler on the 2014 tour of England, taking 19 wickets at 26.63. He impressed with the bat too, outscoring and facing more deliveries than Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli. Jasprit Bumrah, who is recovering from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad but will only be available for selection starting from the second Test. Mohammed Shami, who missed the bulk of the IPL and later failed a fitness Test ahead of the Afghanistan Test, returns to the squad after having cleared the Yo-Yo test. Shardul Thakur has also found a place in the side, presumably as cover for Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.
Pant, an aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman, has earned his maiden Test call-up after notching up successive First Class fifties for India-A in the ongoing tour of England. He will be travelling as understudy to Dinesh Karthik, India’s primary stumper in the absence of the injured Wriddhiman Saha.
Pant was originally not named in the India-A squad for the four-day matches, but was added earlier this month. “As a wicketkeeper I personally feel that he should be a very good wicketkeeper first; we always give keeping utmost importance and then comes batting,” Prasad had said of Pant in May.
The chief selector felt, however, that Pant had improved. “He has been groomed for this for the last two years. He has batted and kept very well in the India-A series,” he said. India is scheduled to play five Tests, with the squad for the last two matches to be named later.
The squad: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, M. Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Shardul Thakur.