Mumbai, Nov 2: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has on Wednesday (Nov 2) announced the 15-member India Test squad for first two Tests in the 5-match home series against England.
Team India's Test skipper Virat Kohli will be leading the No. 1 side in the world against Alastair Cook and Co. in the 5-match rubber, starting November 9 at Rajkot.
Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir has been retained while Ishant Sharma is back into the fold, after recovering from Chikungunya.
All rounder Hardik Pandya has been inducted into the squad. The Baroda all-rounder made his ODI debut against New Zealand and impressed all with his all-round show.
The selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad fielded maximum queries regarding Pandya's inclusion and he stated that his "all-round abilities" with a sea change in attitude after working under India A coach Rahul Dravid went in his favour.
"If you look at Hardik Pandya, his pace has increased. His overall personality has mellowed down. He did extremely well in the ODI series and also during the A tour Down Under," Prasad told the mediapersons. Prasad admitted that Pandya is one of the few seamer all-rounders that India has at the moment.
"We all have been trying to find an all-rounder after Kapil Dev. In case we play three spinners, he can be the second seamer and also can bat," Prasad reasoned.
Asked about Pandya's attitude, Prasad said: "We all know he is a bit hyper. But he has worked hard under Rahul Dravid and under chief coach Anil Kumble."
The selectors have also reposed their faith in youngster Karun Nair, who was picked for the third Test against New Zealand but is yet to make his debut. He will be the reserve batsman for the side.
About Karun, who was included as a standby in the final Test at Indore, Prasad said: "We have been grooming him (Karun Nair) for the last one or two years."
Middle-order-batsman Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the Test squad due to injury.
The rookie-spinner Jayant Yadav has once again been retained by the selectors. The pace duo of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav retained their places in the side.
Ace India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who were rested for the ODI series against Kiwis, are back into the side.
Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay, on the other hand, were automatic inclusions.
The chairman said Bhuvneshwar Kumar has recovered from his back injury but the selection committee wants the UP seamer to at least play a Ranji game and prove his match fitness.
Ditto for KL Rahul (hamstring) and Shikhar Dhawan (finger fracture).
As far as Rohit is concerned, Prasad said: "Rohit has an injury. It could take anything between 6-8 weeks and he might have to go for a surgery."
The new BCCI selection panel, headed by chief selector MSK Prasad, met at a five-star hotel in Mumbai today at 12 pm to select the team.
The team is almost the same that played against New Zealand in the 3-Test series and completed a whitewash.
Here is the squad:
1. Virat Kohli (Captain)
2. Ajinkya Rahane (Vice Captain)
3. Gautam Gambhir
4. Murali Vijay
5. Cheteshwar Pujara
6. Hardik Pandya
7. Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket-keeper)
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
9. Ravindra Jadeja
10. Karun Nair
11. Amit Mishra
12. Mohammad Shami
13. Ishant Sharma
14. Umesh Yadav
15. Jayant Yadav