Pant earns maiden Test call-up, Kuldeep also back in India squad

Leeds: Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was on Wednesday named in the 18-member Indian squad for the first three Tests against England, but senior batsman Rohit Sharma was once again ignored for the five-day format.

The 20-year-old Pant has been named as the specialist wicketkeeper-batsman alongside Dinesh Karthik, who had played the team’s last Test against Afghanistan in the absence of an injured Wriddhiman Saha. Saha continues to be out nursing a thumb injury sustained during the IPL earlier this year.

Pacer Mohammad Shami, who was dropped from the one-off game against Afghanistan after failing the YoYo test, has regained full fitnessĀ and has made his way back for the five-match series starting August 1. However, there is uncertainty over the participation of key pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the five-match series after he aggravated a “lower back condition” during the third ODI against England on Tuesday.

“His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” said the BCCI in a statement. Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who was unfit for the ODI series, will be available for selection from the second Test onwards, the statement added. The other three members of the Test squad – opener Murali Vijay, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair – are also part of the India A side playing in Worcester.

FC average of 54.16

  • 54.16 is Pant’s batting average in 22 First-Class games with a triple century and India’s fastest hundred at that level to his name.
  • 308 runs he scored Vs Maha in 2016-17 season. He was only 19 when he achieved the feat.

Chinaman gets nod in the longest format

Though skipper Virat Kohli had hinted a possible change in the spin department, the selectors have acted on expected lines by picking Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who produced some outstanding spells in the preceding T20 and ODI series against England. Given Kuldeep’s recent success, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod in the playing eleven. Kuldeep has played two Tests so far – one each against Australia and Sri Lanka.

English conditions not an issue

  • 67 off 71 balls Pant scored in the second unofficial Test against West Indies A at Taunton last week, helping his team pull off a five-wicket victory and the series win.
  • 4 T20Is the left-hander has played so far. He is currently playing the one-off unofficial Test against England Lions at Worcester.

Bhuvneshwar fitness issue puts support staff under scanner

New Delhi: Aggravation of Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s back injury during the third ODI against England has raised questions on the role of Indian team physio Patrick Farhart and trainer Shankar Basu in handling of the situation. The UP pacer has been suffering from a stiff back since the start of IPL and also didn’t play all the matches during the limited overs tour of the UK leg.

Bhuvneshwar has currently not been named in the 18 member squad for the first three Tests “as his condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team”. However, a senior BCCI official privy to team selection was “surprised” as to why he was played in the third ODI if he wasn’t fully fit. “Please go and ask Ravi Shastri that question,” the official replied when asked about Bhuvneshwar’s injury management. The moment we are saying he has aggravated his injury, we are conceding that he wasn’t fully fit. So if he is a vital cog in our Test match scheme of things, why was he risked for an ODI,” the official questioned.

There are questions being raised whether Farhart and Basu had given a proper update about Bhuvneshwar’s fitness. “If you look at IPL, Bhuvi missed five out of 17 games for Sunrisers. The BCCI had asked the franchise to look after his workload management. Then he was rested for Afghanistan Test so that he gets time to recover for UK tour. But it seems something is amiss and that’s quite baffling” the official said. Bhuvneshwar had passed the YoYo test which is now a primary fitness criteria to get into the team.

But it has now become clear that he was carrying a niggle since the time of IPL to the time he boarded the flight to UK. “There are some questions that the team management needs to answer.”

India’s Test squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.