Subhaman Gill got a maiden Test call up while out-of-form opener KL Rahul was axed from the India squad for the three-Test series against South Africa.
The absence of Umesh Yadav is the only other change in the 15-man squad from the one that won 2-0 in West Indies recently.
The BCCI confirmed that Rohit Sharma will open in the series, with Mayank Agarwal being the only other specialist opener. Rohit has never opened in Test cricket, but voices calling for him to be tried in that position have been growing in recent times. Rohit could not find a place in the XI for either of the two Tests in West Indies, with Hanuma Vihari sealing the middle-order spot.
Want to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests – MSK Prasad— BCCI (@BCCI) September 12, 2019
Rohit will get a chance to get used to that position in the three-day warm up match for Board President’s XI, for which he has been named captain.
Gill, meanwhile, has been knocking on the doors of selection for nearly a year. The 20-year-old averages 72.15 from 14 first-class matches. He recently became the youngest to score a double-ton for an Indian representative side when he slammed 204* against West Indies A in Tarouba.
Gill is currently leading India A in the four-day games against South Africa A, and scored 90 in the first innings of India’s win. Gill has played two ODIs for India.
Rahul has paid the price for poor form and inability to convert starts. He managed just 101 runs in four innings of the West Indies tour. Rahul has not scored a half-century in 12 innings since his 149 against England in the last Test of the 2018 tour. That knock too came after a string of poor performances.
There’s little surprise in the rest of the squad, led by Virat Kohli. R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav are the three spinners while Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami will handle the pace department. Umesh, who had been a constant in home Tests in the last few years, has not been picked.
The first Tests starts on October 2 in Visakhapatnam before the series moves to Pune and Ranchi.
South Africa’s warm-up match against Board President’s XI begins on September 26 in Vizianagaram.
India’s squad for 3 Tests: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (Wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill.
Board President’s XI: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav