The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Tuesday, announced the 18-man squad for the first two Tests of England tour of India, with captain Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma all marking their return.
Missing the series will be Mohammed Shami (forearm fracture), Ravindra Jadeja (fractured thumb), Hanuma Vihari (grade 2 muscle tear) and Umesh Yadav (calf injury), as the players are still recovering from their respective injuries. There were doubts over the availability of Navdeep Saini and the 28-year-old has been ruled out due to a groin issue.
TEAM - Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya (VC), KL Rahul, Hardik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur— BCCI (@BCCI) January 19, 2021
Opener Prithvi Shaw will miss the squad after failing to impress during India's tour of Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It is said that the squad was finalized by the newly-formed selection committee lead by Chetan Sharma. Apart from the main squad, BCCI has also named four standbys in case someone from the main roster needs to be replaced. And as per the recent norm, the cricket board has also named five net bowlers.
The Committee also picked five net bowlers and five players as standbys.— BCCI (@BCCI) January 19, 2021
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#INDvENG
While Kohli is marking his return after brief paternity leave, Hardik Pandya has been selected in the Test squad for the first time since 2018. As for Ishant Sharma, who missed the Australia tour, he has been bowling quite well in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy while playing for Delhi, picking five wickets in four matches.
The heroes of the Gabba Test, Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar have been awarded another call-up, while Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal have retained places as well.
India squad for first two Tests against England: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul (subject to fitness after the first Test), Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel
Standbys: KS Bharat (wicketkeeper), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar
Net bowlers: Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, K Gowtham, Saurabh Kumar
Feature image courtesy: AFP / William West