Kohli, Ishant, Hardik return to Test squad; Natarajan, Shaw miss out
by- Cricbuzz Staff
Even before the dust has settled on India' sensational Test series win in Australia, the Chetan Sharma-led selection committee have announced the squad for the first two Tests of India's next assignment - at home against England from February 5. Virat Kohli, who missed three of the four Tests in Australia on paternity leave, comes back to take over the reigns of the side, while Ishant Sharma returns too.
Ishant had suffered a rib injury during the IPL and though he recovered from it during the course of the Test series, he was deemed not to be Test match-fit to fly out to Australia. He has subsequently played for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s and is now fit to return to the longest format.
Also making a return is Hardik Pandya, who was thoroughly impressive in the white-ball leg in Australia but was not retained as part of the Test squad in the quest to manage his workload and his injury-riddled back better. He last played a Test for India in August 2018.
Prithvi Shaw, who had a tough time in the only Test he played in Australia, has been omitted from the squad. India will go in with four opening options in Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. Rahul too was one of the players who suffered an injury and returned home from Australia midway through the tour.
India squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-captain), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur
While the injured trio of Hanuma Vihari, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav weren't available, the selectors opted to leave out T Natarajan, who made an impressive debut in the just-concluded Brisbane Test having stayed on as a net bowler. Jasprit Bumrah will lead the pace attack again, and be accompanied by Ishant, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur in the pace department.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who batted with an injured back to save the SCG Test and subsequently sat out in Brisbane has made the cut. Washington Sundar's impressive all-round show on debut has secured him a place in the side too, while Kuldeep Yadav has retained his spot. Interestingly, the uncapped Gujarat allrounder Axar Patel has also been picked while Ravindra Jadeja continues his recovery. Axar, who made his first class debut way back in 2013, has 134 wickets in 39 matches, while also averaging a handy 35.42 with the bat.
India have also picked net bowlers and standby players, should the need arise to replace anyone during the course of the series.
Net Bowlers:Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, Krishnappa Gowtham, Saurabh Kumar
Standby players:K S Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar, Priyank Panchal
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