KL Rahul, Mohammed Siraj in India Test squad for Australia tour; Rohit Sharma out with injury

Cricket


Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the upcoming Australia tour with a hamstring injury he picked up in the ongoing IPL. KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav have returned to India’s Test squad and uncapped fast bowler Mohammed Siraj has also been called-up for the four-match series in December-January. Ishant Sharma‘s injury in the IPL meant he was not in the Test squad either, and the BCCI has said in a statement they will “continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma.”

While Rohit picked up a hamstring injury last week and he is still in the UAE with the Mumbai Indians squad, Ishant was ruled out of the IPL much earlier with an abdominal muscle tear and he had returned to India. Ishant has been at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru since then.

India’s openers in Rohit’s absence are Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, just like was the case for the New Zealand Tests earlier this year, with the addition of Rahul now to make it an 18-man squad. Siraj will be the fifth pace-bowling option along with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini whereas Kuldeep will be the third spinner along with Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin.

The BCCI release also said four additional bowlers – Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kartik Tyagi, Ishan Porel and T Natarajan – will travel with the Indian contingent.

Rishabh Pant, who is missing from the white-ball squads, and Wriddhiman Saha are the two wicketkeepers, and Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain) and Hanuma Vihari are the expected batsmen in the squad led by Virat Kohli.

Rahul, who last played a Test in the West Indies last year and also toured Australia in 2018-19, has been one of the most consistent batsmen this IPL while opening for the Kings XI Punjab and is currently the leading run-scorer of the season with 550 runs. Siraj has impressed for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, especially with his stunning figures of 3 for 8 against the Kolkata Knight Riders last week. Overall, Siraj has six wickets from 16 overs in five games so far.

It is for the longer format, though, that Siraj has been impressing the selectors by regularly representing India A in the last few years. He toured New Zealand with the A squad earlier this year for three wickets from two games, after a tally of 19 wickets in five games in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy. Prior to that he was part of the A squads for the home series against South Africa A and the tour of West Indies in 2019.

It was in late 2018, however, that he turned heads with the red ball when he took career-best figures of 8 for 59 against an Australia A line-up that had several Test batsmen. When he took another three wickets in the second innings, he finished with 40 wickets in five first-class games against the A squads of West Indies, England, South Africa and Australia.

Kuldeep’s last Test was in Australia in 2019 in Sydney, where he took a five-for, and he has been more regular in the shorter formats since then, having played an ODI in New Zealand earlier this year and the home series against Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies before that.

The fixtures have not been announced officially yet but the Test series is expected to start with a day-night game in Adelaide from December 17, before moving to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test starting December 26, followed by the New Year’s Test in Sydney from January 7 and the last one in Brisbane from January 15.

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj



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