‘s incredible exploits in T20I cricket have propelled him into the Test arena, with the 32-year-old batter picked in a 17-member squad to play for India against Australia. The squad, picked for only the first two Tests of the four-match home series, includes another player who has made his name in the white-ball circuit. Ishan Kishan
has come into the side with first-choice wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant in recovery after a car accident.
India go into the Border-Gavaskar series, starting on February 9
, with the spearhead of their pace attack stuck on the sidelines. Jasprit Bumrah
had, not so long ago, looked like he was ready to return to cricket after recovering from a stress reaction in his back. But in the process of getting himself used to normal workloads again, he felt stiffness in his right glute and has now been advised at least another month’s rehabilitation
is coming out of his own long-term injury lay-off. The left-arm spin-bowling allrounder has been picked in the squad and could have a huge role to play in a home series that India need to win 3-1 or better to be assured of a place in the World Test Championship final
. Jadeja has not played any cricket since August 2022. He was originally due to return during the tour of Bangladesh late last year, but it emerged that he needed more time to recover from a knee surgery done in September. Even now, the BCCI has noted in its press release announcing the squad that Jadeja’s inclusion “is subject to fitness.”
India’s Test-match batting is set to receive an injection of pace should either of Kishan or Suryakumar make the XI. Both players have strike rates above 60 in first-class cricket. But getting them in remains a challenge.
The captain Rohit Sharma, the vice-captain KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli will likely occupy the top four spots. Shreyas Iyer should slot in at No. 5 or 6 given his recent form – he averaged 101
in India’s most recent Test series, against Bangladesh in December 2022, while Shubman Gill seems the first reserve for both opening and middle-order roles. Kishan has been designated as a wicketkeeper in the squad so he will be pitted against KS Bharat, who has long been the understudy to Pant.
On the bowling front, Mohammed Shami will step up as the front man of the attack with support from Mohammed Siraj, who enjoyed a stellar debut series against Australia when India beat them on their turf in 2020-21, Jaydev Unadkat, the left-armer who recently broke a spell of 12 years between Test matches, and Umesh Yadav. Hardik Pandya, although a regular part of India’s white-ball set-up, is not part of the Test squad. It is learnt that he does not yet have the fitness to bowl long spells in red-ball cricket. R Ashwin will be the lead spinner with Jadeja, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav backing him up.
Changes between India’s last Test squad and this one
In: Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav
Out: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Rishabh Pant, Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Shardul Thakur.