Mumbai batsman Prithvi Shaw has been handed a comeback into the Test squad as Rohit Sharma suffered a calf strain during the fifth T20I against New Zealand that ruled him out of the ODIs and the Tests to follow. While Shaw was drafted into the Test squad, Mayank Agarwal was picked as Rohit’s replacement for the three-match ODI series.
Rohit, who took over the leadership role after Virat Kohli decided to rest in the final T20I vs New Zealand, picked up the injury during his knock of 60 in the first innings. Rohit was in some discomfort after scoring a six off Ish Sodhi in the 17th over and he eventually retired hurt. He did not take the field in the second innings, with KL Rahul captaining the side as India completed a 5-0 sweep of the T20Is.
India will thus go into the two-Test series – from February 21 – with Shaw, Mayank and Shubman Gill as their opening options. The 20-year-old Shaw made his Test debut against West Indies at home in 2018, and was even picked for the tour of Australia, where he picked up an ankle injury during practice. He was also slapped with backdated suspension last year for a doping violation. In the lead-up to the New Zealand series, Shaw has been among the runs in the domestic circuit – most notably with a double hundred against Baroda. Shaw also smashed 150 in his first match upon landing in New Zealand against New Zealand XI. The diminutive opener has carried his form across formats, scoring a 48 and a 55 in two List A fixtures late last month.
Gill is yet to make his Test debut, but has impressed in the A setup for more than a year. The promising Punjab batsman scored 83 and 204* against New Zealand A in his most recent first-class fixture last week, albeit from the No.4 position.
India have also provisionally included pacer Ishant Sharma, who had suffered an ankle injury during a Ranji Trophy fixture against Vidarbha last month. The speedster spent time at the NCA rehabilitating and has now been picked – his availability subject to fitness clearance. Navdeep Saini finds himself in the Test squad again, on the back of impressive performances. The Delhi quick, who is yet to make his Test debut, was first called-up to the squad for the one-off Test against Afghanistan in 2018 when Mohammed Shami missed the cut and was also a cover for the squad in West Indies last year.
There was no place for leggie Kuldeep Yadav in the squad, as India went with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as the two spin options. Incidentally, the last of Kuldeep’s six Test appearances came away from home – in January 2019 in Australia. His senior spin partners Ashwin and Jadeja have kept him out in the seven Test matches since.
Test squad:Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Ishant Sharma (subject to fitness clearance).
Shaw, who is also part of the ODI squad, stands a chance of making his debut, opening the batting alongside Rahul in the absence of both Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan, who is recovering from a shoulder injury himself. Should India opt to continue with their recent ploy of using KL Rahul in the middle order in ODIs, then Mayank could be in line to open the batting alongside Shaw.