Virat Kohli will remain on the sidelines due to personal reasons, thus missing a Test series for the first time since his debut, while Shreyas Iyer has been dropped for the last three games of India’s ongoing five-match series versus England. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and batter K.L. Rahul return to the squad pending a final fitness clearance. Pacer Akash Deep has received a maiden Test call-up in the 17-member squad.
Jay Shah, the Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary, announced the squad on Saturday morning after the national selectors met on Friday evening in Chennai to finalise the squad. The Hindu understands that the selectors chose to wait as much as they could to have clarity over Kohli’s availability and assess Rahul and Jadeja’s fitness.
“Virat Kohli will remain unavailable for selection for the remainder of the series due to personal reasons. The Board fully respects and supports Mr. Kohli’s decision,” the BCCI statement read. “The participation of Ravindra Jadeja and K.L. Rahul is subject to fitness clearance from the BCCI medical team.”
With the Indian squad — given a break after the second Test concluded in Visakhapatnam on February 5 — set to reassemble in Rajkot on Sunday evening, a final call on Jadeja and Rahul’s participation may be taken during Monday’s training session.
Shreyas, meanwhile, has been dropped on the back of a mediocre run in the ongoing World Test Championship cycle. The middle-order batter has managed just 187 runs in his previous 12 innings. His mode of dismissals in the first two Tests has also not gone down well with the team management and the selectors.
Despite a back trouble having reportedly resurfaced for Shreyas, the statement finds no mention of the injury. Rajat Patidar, who came in as Kohli’s replacement ahead of the series and made his debut in Visakhapatnam after Rahul was unavailable, and Sarfaraz Khan have retained their place in the side.
The only other change is Akash Deep, the Bengal pacer, having been brought in place of Avesh Khan. More than the change, the biggest discussion about the pace pack revolved around Jasprit Bumrah’s workload.
With the series being tied at a match apiece, the selectors persisted with Bumrah. Depending on the way the Rajkot game pans out, a call be taken on resting Bumrah for the fourth or the fifth Test.
The squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, K.L. Rahul, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (WK), K.S. Bharat (WK), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep.
The itinerary: Third Test: February 15-19 (Rajkot), Fourth Test: February 23-27 (Ranchi), Fifth Test: March 7-11 (Dharamsala).