The Indian selectors on Thursday announced the Indian team for the three-match series against South Africa. The biggest announcement was the selection of young Shubman Gill, who found a place in the 15 in place of the struggling KL Rahul. Chief selector MSK also confirmed that Rohit Sharma will open in the Test matches.
Gill has been impressive in first-class cricket consistently, with four centuries in 14 matches. Further, he also made a 90 in the unofficial Test against South Africa A. Gill had made his ODI debut against New Zealand earlier in the year but subsequently was left out of the team. After being chosen, 20-year-old Gill took to Twitter to express delight. "Be it blue or white It's always an honor to represent my country," Gill wrote.
As for Rahul, the ax was pretty much on expected lines. He managed only 101 runs in four innings with a best of 44. In fact, since his hundred against England at The Oval last year, he doesn’t even have a fifty to his name.
The other big announcement was, of course, the confirmation that Rohit Sharma would open in Tests as well. Chief selector MSK Prasad told media that the team think-tank is keen on giving Rohit a chance considering his great form and the lack of runs from Rahul. "We want to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests," MSK Prasad said.
Rohit will also be the captain of the Board President's XI for the three-day warm-up match. Out-of-favour Test players Karun Nair and Umesh Yadav are also part of the practice match which will be played at Vizianagaram starting from September 26
Not many changes in the rest of the squad. Kuldeep Yadav retains the third spinner’s slot along with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Jasprit Bumrah is finally likely to play his first home Test. Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami continue as the other two pacers. Both Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha find a place as wicket-keepers.
The first Test of the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy will take place in Visakhapatnam from October 2. The second Test is in Pune from October 10 and the third in Ranchi from October 19.
Indian team for 3 Tests: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill
Board President's XI squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav
--By Renin Wilben Albert