Suryakumar Yadav’s incredible exploits in T20I cricket propelled him into the Test arena, with the 32-year-old batsman being selected in the 17-man squad to play for India against Australia. The squad selected for only the first two Tests of the four-match home series includes another player who has made a name for himself in the white-ball circuit. Ishan Kishan has come into the team along with first-choice wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, recovering from a car accident.
India will go into the Border-Gavaskar series starting February 9 with the leadership of their pace attack stuck on the sidelines. Sometime back Jasprit Bumrah looked set to return to cricket after recovering from a strain reaction in his back. But in the process of getting himself used to normal workload again, he felt tightness in his right glute and has now been advised at least one more month of rehabilitation.
Ravindra Jadeja is coming out of his long term injury. The left-arm spin-bowling all-rounder has been picked in the squad and could have a big role to play in the home series which India need to win 3-1 or better to ensure 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 he needed more time to recover from knee surgery in September. Even now, the BCCI in its press release announcing the squad has said that Jadeja’s inclusion is “subject to fitness.”
Should either Kishan or Suryakumar be brought into the XI, India’s Test batting line-up is sure to be injected with pace. Both players have a strike rate above 60 in first-class cricket. But getting them in remains a challenge.
Captain Rohit Sharma, vice-captain KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli can 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 is the first choice for both the opening and middle-order roles. Looks reserved. Kishan has been named as the wicketkeeper in the squad so he will be pitted against KS Bharath, who has been Pant’s teammate for a long time.
On the bowling front, Mohammed Shami will step in as the man at the forefront of the attack with support from Mohammed Siraj, who enjoyed a stellar debut series against Australia when India beat them at their home in 2020-21. Left arm bowler Jaydev Unadkat who recently broke the gap of 12 years between Test matches and Umesh Yadav. Hardik Pandya, though a regular part of India’s white-ball set-up, is not a part of the Test team. It is learned that he does not yet have the fitness to bowl long spells in red-ball cricket. R Ashwin will be the main spinner along with Jadeja, Akshar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav.
Changes between India’s last Test team and this one
In: Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav
Outside: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Rishabh Pant, Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Shardul Thakur.