India have today (September 12, 2019) officially announced their test squad for their upcoming home series against South Africa.
After a mediocre performance with the bat in the recently concluded series against the West Indies, Karnataka batsman KL Rahul has been axed, with the the selectors opting to bring in young Shubhman Gill into the squad. Gill captained India A in their recent test against South Africa A in Trivandrum, a game that was comfortably won by the home side. The India U19 star opened the batting in this fixture, and scored a masterful 90 in the first innings- the highest score by an individual player across both teams in this test.
As suggested by previous media reports, the selectors have also given Rohit Sharma another chance at resurrecting his test career- this time as an opener. The MI skipper is expected to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top, with Gill set to be the reserve opener.
With Prithvi Shaw currently serving a doping ban, Rohit could potentially have both the home series against the Proteas and Bangladesh to impress the selectors. India’s next away tour is against New Zealand in February 2020.
The Rohit move has attracted a fair share of criticism- the MI star has always looked uncomfortable against the moving ball in the longest format of the game and hasn’t played as an opener in domestic red ball cricket anytime in the recent past. Australia and England tried similar experiments with Aaron Finch and Jason Roy, but both failed, and it remains to be seen whether Rohit suffers the same fate or emulates the legendary Virender Sehwag, as coach Ravi Shastri wants him to.
The fast bowling attack comprises of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, while the likes of Ravi Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravi Jadeja are available as spin options. Hardik Pandya has been rested, with the conditions not expected to demand a specialist pace bowling all-rounder.
The first Test match will be played in Visakhapatnam from October 2, followed by the second one at Pune on the 10th. The third and final match of the tour will be played in Ranchi on October 19.
The Men in Blue are currently on top of the points table in the World Test Championship with 120 points.
India’s Test squad
Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shubman Gill, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma.