India have handed a maiden Test call-up to young batsman Shubman Gill for the upcoming three-match Test series at home against South Africa.
The 20-year-old batsman has been roped in as an opener for the series with KL Rahul dropped from the Test outfit after his unconvincing displays in the tour of West Indies.
Gill was the man-of-the-series when India won the U19 World Cup in New Zealand last year and he has made a stellar start to his first-class senior career as well for Punjab.
The right-handed batsman has been in excellent form of late for India A in their recent shadow tour of the West Indies as well the clashes against South Africa A at home.
India’s squad for 3 Tests: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill— BCCI (@BCCI) September 12, 2019
Want to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests - MSK Prasad— BCCI (@BCCI) September 12, 2019
In 14 first-class matches for Punjab so far, young Gill has managed to 1,443 runs at an average of over 72 with the help of four tons and eight half-centuries.
He is the only change to the India Test squad which completed a 2-0 series clean sweep in the tour of the Caribbean. Gill could be now set to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top of the batting order although he faces direct competition from Rohit Sharma who has retained his place in the Test squad.
Chief selectors MSK Prasad stated that India will seriously consider Rohit as an opener in home conditions and it will be interesting to see who gets the starting berth ultimately between the senior and junior batsmen.
“Yes, we are definitely looking at him (as opener), and we want to give him an opportunity,” Prasad said while announcing the Test squad.
“He himself is keen, and all of us in the selection committee are keen. We want to push him, and give him some opportunities up the order, and see where he stands, and then we will take a call.”
India have opted against bringing back all-rounder Hardik Pandya to the Test fold just yet after he was rested for the tour of West Indies. The 25-year-old had earlier been picked for the T20 series against South Africa which begins on Sunday.
The first Test between India and South Africa is due to get underway at Visakhapatnam on October 2.
India 15-man squad
Virat Kohli (c), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill.
Hosts England are looking to level the series and restore some pride as they lock horns with arch-rivals Australia in the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Oval.
The visitors have already retained the urn after taking an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series with a 185-run win at Manchester. They are now looking to claim their first Ashes series win on English soil since 2001.
England, on the other hand, will be desperate to bounce back while also eyeing the vital 24 World Test Championship points on offer. The hosts have made two changes to their playing XI with Sam Curran and Chris Woakes coming in for Jason Roy and Craig Overton respectively.
Will the Aussies complete an outright Ashes win in England or will Joe Root’s men have the last laugh in the five-match series? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates from the Oval below.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya is raring to go once again as he gets ready to make his India return in the upcoming series against South Africa.
The 25-year-old was rested for India’s recent tour of the West Indies following his exertions in the IPL and the 2019 World Cup but he is now fully recharged to get back into the thick of things.
“The break was important for me as the IPL was long and then the World Cup followed,” Pandya told Indian news agency IANS.
“I had a good run in both tournaments. That required my body to take some rest, as precaution is better than cure.
“That is when the call was taken by the team management that I come back fully fit for the South Africa series. Neither the team management nor I wish that I get injured. The rest has helped me a lot and my fitness has gone to the next level.”
Pandya had an excellent individual campaign at the World Cup in England where he picked up 10 wickets with the ball while chipping in with 226 runs with the bat. However, it ended painfully for both India and Pandya with the Men in Blue crashing out of the tournament after a semi-final defeat to New Zealand.
While admitting that the semi-final exit was a bitter pill to swallow, Pandya has already trained his eyes on the 2020 World Cup which takes place in Australia next year.
“The loss was difficult and we all felt the same pain, but life moves on,” he said.
“I would have been more upset if we as a team hadn’t done justice to our performance. We played as champions and except for those 30 minutes, I thought we played outstandingly and everyone was contributing and looking to excel. It is just how it is at the knockout stage.
“We have kind of moved on and we want to focus on the next World Cup and win that.”
The all-rounder will now hope to impress on his comeback when the three-match T20 series between India and South Africa gets underway. The first of the three clashes is due to take place in Dharamsala on Sunday.