The 15 member Test squad for the upcoming three-match home series with South Africa announced on Thursday, saw one expected change, with KL Rahul dropped after a recent poor run of form, whilst young opener Shubman Gill given his first chance at this level.
Rohit Sharma, who opens for India in limited overs cricket, but has previously batted for his country in the middle order in the longer form of the game will open, with the selectors promising to give him time to make the role his own. In preparation for the series, Rohit will captain an Indian Board President’s XI, which will take on the South Africans in a three-day tour match in Vizianagaram from September 26.
Also left out of the fifteen, was fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who formed part of the senior squad that recently toured the West Indies.
Rahul has been dropped after a dismal recent spell with the bat, which has seen him fail to get past 50 in any of his recent test matches. However, the selectors have not closed the door on him altogether, and have indicated that he could be in line for a recall if, and when, he rediscovers his form in domestic cricket.
The inclusion of 20 year old Gill had been widely expected, He has already played for his country in 2 ODIS, and pressed his credentials for a place in the senior side with his recent performance in the Caribbean, where he became the youngest batsman to score a double century for an Indian team in a first class match, playing for India A against the West Indies A in Trinidad. He then underlined then, captaining India A to victory over South Africa A in their first unofficial test in Thiruvanthapuram earlier this week, and scoring 90 in the first innings.
It remains to be seen if he will open with Rohit, or will instead be given his chance lower down the order to protect him in his debut test. Mayank Agarwal opened with Rahul in the West Indies, but he is still relatively experienced at this level as well.
The test series gets underway on October 2nd in Vishakhapatnam, followed by matches at Pune and Ranchi. It is preceded by a three match ODI series, with the first game scheduled to take place on Sunday, at the Himachi Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.
India are the number one ranked test team in the world, and are heavy favourites to beat South Africa at home.