NEW DELHI, September 12: Opener KL Rahul’s inconsistent run with the bat led to his exclusion from the Indian Test team as the selection committee on Thursday announced the squad for the upcoming three-match Test series against South Africa starting next month. In the recently concluded two-Test series against the West Indies, Rahul scored just 101 runs in four innings at an average of 25.25.
Rahul’s expulsion from the team could also pave the way for Rohit Sharma to open against South Africa. Under-19 World Cup star Shubman Gill has got his maiden Test call up.
“With regards to Shubman Gill, we look at him as an opener as well as middle-order batsman. We are looking at him as back-up for both the slots. As he keeps playing more and more, he will get his opportunities, because he is a player for all three formats,” said chairman of selectors MSK Prasad after the meeting of the panel.
The 20-year-old Gill’s inclusion was on expected lines after he top-scored for India A in the tour of West Indies and was adjudged man of the series. He scored a first-class double hundred during the series.
The chief selector MSK Prasad also said that selectors want to give Rohit an opportunity to open the innings in Tests. This is something that former India captain Sourav Ganguly also advocated some time ago.
“Yes, we are definitely looking at him (Rohit) and want to give him an opportunity up the order. He is keen (on opening) and the selection committee as well as everyone (team management) is keen. We want to see where he stands and then take a call,” Prasad said.
“He (Rohit) is opening in white-ball cricket for a decade now (for six years) and I am sure he has that ability to bat up the order. We have seen that in red ball cricket and if he can replicate that in white ball cricket, nothing like it,” Prasad added.
Young players like Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari, who have been doing well in the longer format of the game, have retained their places. Vihari finished the two-Test series against the West Indies as the highest run-getter by making 289 runs.
Pacer Umesh Yadav, who did not get to play against Windies, failed to make the cut for the 15-member squad.
“Issue right now, we couldn’t have Umesh here as it will be two seamers who will play. If it’s really a seaming track, we go for the third one. So Umesh may not play.
For him, it is better to play domestic cricket as we are in domestic season. He is in India A side,” Prasad added.
Rohit will captain the Board President’s XI, which will take on the South Africans in a three-day tour match in Vizianagaram from September 26.
India’s first Test against South Africa will start in Visakhapatnam on October 2, while the second and third games will be held in Pune (October 10-14) and Ranchi (October 19-23) respectively.
MS Dhoni not retiring, confirms chief selector MSK Prasad
The speculations regarding MS Dhoni’s retirement were put to rest on Thursday with chief selector MSK Prasad saying that there was no update on the 38-year-old wicket-keeper batsman bidding adieu to cricket.
Prasad on Thursday announced the India squad for the Test series against South Africa at a press conference here. When he was asked if there was any update on Dhoni’s retirement, Prasad said: “No, absolutely not. I am really surprised to hear that.” (Agencies)
India’s squad for 3 Tests: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill
Board President’s XI: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav.