The BCCI has announced a 15-man squad for the upcoming home series against England. Amid all the speculations, Rohit Sharma has been sidelined due to injury, while Gautam Gambhir has retained his place, but the surprise has been Hardik Pandya's inclusion in the Test squad.
The MSK Prasad-led selection panel has introduced a new set of players for the important England series.
Gautam Gambhir, who scored a half-century in the Indore Test, has been retained while perennial under-performer Rohit Sharma has been dropped from the squad after a thigh strain ruled him out for a few weeks. Gambhir had scored a selfless and quickfire fifty in the second innings of the final Test setting India
Shikhar Dhawan, who suffered an injury in the second Test, is yet to find his way back, while KL Rahul, who had barely cemented his place at the top before injury woes struck, misses out on a return.
Karun Nair, who struck a century against Assam in the last Ranji Trophy encounter, has retained his spot in the line-up. Fast bowler Shardul Thakur faced the
The surprise addition to the squad has been Hardik Pandya, who has sneaked into the Test squad for the first time after making his ODI debut just weeks earlier. The move confirms the potential the selectors have placed in the youngster despite his barely passable performances in the India A tour of Australia.
Justifying the selection of Hardik Pandya in the squad, MSK Prasad said, "Pandya's pace has increased, he is moving the ball, his batsmanship has improved. He is one allrounder we thought is an equally competent bowler and batsman. And a good fielder too. We all know he is a bit hyper. One allrounder we are looking for after Kapil Dev. Rahul Dravid has worked hard on his mental aspect. Now Anil Kumble is guiding him. He has mellowed down. We have three allrounders - Stuart Binny, Hardik Pandya, Rishi Dhawan. In this particular series, he scores ahead of Binny. Much quicker and better bowler than Stuart. With form and fitness, Hardik is a better option."
The first Test of the 5-match series will be played at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot on November 9.
1st Test - Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot - Nov 9
2nd Test - VDCA stadium, Delhi - Nov 17
3rd Test - PCA stadium, Mohali - Nov 26
4th Test - Wankhede stadium, Mumbai - Dec 8
5th Test - M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai - Dec 16