India have named an 18-member Test squad with regular skipper Virat Kohli at the helm for the first two Tests of the home series against England, beginning February 5.
Hardik Pandya, who last played in whites during India’s 2018 tour of England has made a comeback, so too has Ishant Sharma who missed out of India’s Test squad in Australia due to a side-strain injury. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah were also back in the side after missing the final Test of Australian series. Virat Kohli, who had returned after the first Test of the series on paternity leave, also returns to lead the side.
Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini have missed out due to injuries.
India announce Test squad for the first two Tests against England 👇
🔸Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, and Hardik Pandya return.
🔸Axar Patel called up.
🔸Sundar, Kuldeep retained.
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) January 19, 2021
There are quite a few changes from the group that played the Tests in Australia. T Natarajan, who made a debut in the Brisbane Test, is rested, while Prithvi Shaw, one of the two openers for the first Test in Australia, has been dropped. Washington Sundar retains his place in the squad in Jadeja’s absence. Axar Patel has also comes in to fill the all-rounder slot.
KS Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem and Rahul Chahar are named as stand-byes and will step in to the main squad if necessary.
Fast bowlers Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan and Sandeep Warrier have been chosen as the net bowlers, so have been all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham and left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar to feature in the extended squad.
The squad was finalised shortly after India’s win in Brisbane by the new selection committee led by Chetan Sharma. Virat Kohli was present virtually for the meeting.
India Test squad for first two Tests of England series
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul (subject to fitnsess after first Test), Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel.
Standbyes: KS Bharat (wicketkeeper), Abhimanya Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar