Rishabh Pant earns maiden Test call-up

The young wicketkeeper was selected along with veteren Dinesh Karthik for the upcoming Test series against England. Although speedster Bhuvneshwar Kumar wasn't named in the squad, he would be available for selection after recovering from an injury.

A file photo of Rishabh Pant in action.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav have been named in India's squad for the first three Tests against England. The All-India Senior Selection Committee, which met in Leeds on Wednesday to finalise the side, decided against including Rohit Sharma, with Karun Nair retaining his spot as the additional middle-order batsman.

During the One-Day International (ODI) series, Virat Kohli had spoken of "a few surprises" in the Test team, suggesting that India might "be tempted" to include both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep. In the event, only the latter made the cut, having tormented England in the ODI and T20 series.

Read: Dhoni seeks match ball

The only surprises were of the bad sort, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar left out of the squad with an injury. The BCCI stated in a release that he had "aggravated a lower back condition" during the third ODI at Headingley and would be assessed by the team's medical staff before a decision on his inclusion was made. He is unlikely to be fit for at least the early part of the tour, however, with chief selector M.S.K. Prasad telling Sportstar that Bhuvneshwar would be returning to India for rehabilitation at the NCA.

“I can't comment on his fitness; but we will definitely miss him,” Prasad said.

Bhuvneshwar was India's best bowler on the 2014 tour of England, taking 19 wickets at 26.63. He impressed with the bat too, outscoring and facing more deliveries than Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli.

Shami returns

Jasprit Bumrah, who is recovering from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad but will only be available for selection starting from the second Test. Mohammed Shami, who missed the bulk of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and later failed a fitness Test ahead of the Afghanistan Test, returns to the squad after having cleared the yo-yo test. Shardul Thakur has also found a place in the side, presumably as cover for Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.

Pant, an aggressive wicket-keeper batsman, has earned his maiden Test call-up after notching up successive First-Class fifties for India-A in the ongoing tour of England. He will be traveling as understudy to Dinesh Karthik, India's primary stumper in the absence of the injured Wriddhiman Saha. Pant was originally not named in the India-A squad for the four-day matches, but was added earlier this month.

'Very good wicketkeeper'

“As a wicketkeeper I personally feel that he should be a very good wicketkeeper first; we always give keeping utmost importance and then comes batting,” Prasad had said of Pant in May.

The chief selector felt, however, that Pant had improved. “He has been groomed for this for the last two years. He has batted and kept very well in the India-A series,” he said.

India is scheduled to play five Tests, with the squad for the last two matches to be named later.

The selection committee also selected the Board President XI team that is scheduled to play a three-day warm-up game against South Africa ‘A’ in Belgaum from July 30.

India’s squad for first three Tests against England: 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.

Schedule of India's Tests vs England

S.No

Date

Match

Venue

1

1st  August

1 Test

Edgbaston

2

9 August

2 Test

Lord’s

3

18 August

3 Test

Trent Bridge

 

BP XI for warm-up fixture against South Africa ‘A’: Ishan Kishan (C & WK), RR Sanjay, AR Eshwaran, Dhruv Shorey, Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui, Jalaj Saxena, Siddhesh Lad, Mihir Hirwani, DA Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Shivam Mavi, Ishaan Porel, Atith Seth.

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