Dhawan Dropped, Agarwal & Siraj Earn First Call-Ups for Windies Tests

Shikhar Dhawan’s man of the series winning effort at the Asia Cup hasn’t helped him save his spot in the Indian Test squad. The opener was dropped from India’s 15-man squad for the two-Test series against the West Indies starting on October 4. Dhawan had an underwhelming tour of England prior to his exploits at the Asia Cup, scoring just 162 runs in eight innings at an average of 20.25.

Dhawan’s place at the top of the order has gone to Karnataka’s Mayank Agarwal, who has been in supreme form in recent months. He scored more than 2000 runs in the last domestic season and has been scoring heavily for India ‘A’ as well. In fact, Agarwal made 90 for Board President’s XI in the warm-up game against West Indies at Vadodara on Saturday to further his claim.

18-year old Prithvi Shaw, who was included in the squad for the final two Tests in England though he wasn’t handed a debut, has retained his place and will be the front-runner to partner K L Rahul as India’s opening combination in the series. Murali Vijay, who has been in impressive form in county cricket for Essex after being dropped after a wretched run in the first three Tests in England, hasn’t been able to convince the selectors to hand him a recall yet.

The selectors have also decided to rest the fast bowling duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar after “taking stock of the recent workload.” Bumrah has been playing non-stop since the third Test in England and Bhuvneshwar only returned to the ODI squad for the Asia Cup after a long spell on the sidelines due to injury that saw him miss the Test series in England. Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya were not considered for selection, as they are yet to recover from their injuries.

Pandya had to be stretchered off the field after suffering an acute lower back injury in India’s game against Pakistan at the Asia Cup. It remains unclear when he will be fit to resume playing.

There were some concerns over the fitness of captain Virat Kohli & lead spin bowler R Ashwin too, but both have been declared fit. Most of the batting unit that did duty in England has kept its places with Hanuma Vihari, who made a battling half century on his debut at the Oval in the final Test, preferred to Karun Nair, who was in the original squad for England. There is also a first call-up for 24-year old fast bowler Mohammad Siraj, who has bowled some eye-catching spells of late, including an effort of 8/59 for India A vs Australia A in Bengaluru recently.

The first Test will be played at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot from October 4-8, followed by the second Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad from October 12-16.

Indian team for the Windies Tests: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur

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