India names unchanged squad for first two Tests against Australia

The national selectors decided to retain the 16-member squad from the one-off Test against Bangladesh for the first two Test matches against Australia, to be played in Pune from February 23 and Bangalore from March 4.

Indian team

The Indian team will face Australia in the first Test on February 23 in Pune.   -  PTI

The national selection panel refrained from tinkering with the winning combination and finalised an unchanged squad for the first two of the four-Test series against Australia, starting from February 23 in Pune.

The 16-member squad that was listed for the one-off Test against Bangladesh will thus re-assemble in Pune on February 19, before starting its preparation for the last stretch of a long season of Test cricket at home.

The squad was finalised in a short meeting of the selection panel, consisting of chairman M.S.K. Prasaad, Devang Gandhi and Sarandeep Singh, that lasted barely half an hour at the BCCI headquarters.

The selectors is understood to have received feedback from captain Virat Kohli and head coach Anil Kumble, both of whom joined via video-conferencing.

Once the medical team confirmed that pacers Mohammed Shami and leg-spinner Amit Mishra would be unavailable at least for the next fortnight, the selectors didn’t have much to debate over an otherwise settled squad. The panel also decided to stick to a 16-member team, primarily to continue to groom young chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and allrounder Hardik Pandya for the sterner tests in future.

For the second time in as many weeks, the BCCI did not allow chief selector Prasad to interact with mediapersons.

The squad: Virat Kohli (capt.), Murali Vijay, K.L. Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddihiman Saha (wk), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Abhinav Mukund, Hardik Pandya.

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