Rahane to lead in first India-NZ Test, Pujara named vice-captain
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced Team India's squad for the impending Test series against New Zealand on Friday. As reported earlier, Ajinkya Rahane will lead the side in the series opener in the absence of Virat Kohli. The latter will join the squad for the second Test. Notably, Cheteshwar Pujara has been named the vice-captain.
Why does this story matter?
India's impending home season will be underway with the first Test against NZ. This will be their first Test assignment since the Oval game in England. However, two of Team India's senior members, Kohli and Rohit, won't be at the forefront as they have been playing back-to-back matches of late. Rahane, who has led India in past, will spearhead the side again.
India's squad for NZ Test series
India's squad for NZ Test series: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna
India will be without these players in first Test
India will miss the services of senior players Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami in the Test series. It is understood that all four have been rested to manage their workloads. While announcing the squad, the BCCI gave no reason for their exclusion. Besides, Kohli will join the squad ahead of the second Test. He will replace Rahane as captain.
Shreyas Iyer, Prasidh Krishna included in the squad
Uncapped Shreyas Iyer has been included in the squad. He will contest for Kohli's number four slot with either Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal, in the first Test. It is likely that KL Rahul will open the batting with either of the two in Rohit's absence. Besides, uncapped Prasidh Krishna joins Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj in the fast bowling arsenal.
Wriddhiman Saha set to keep wickets; KS Bharat earns call-up
Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha is expected to play his first Test since December 2020, with Pant being rested. He will be accompanied by Andhra's KS Bharat, who owns 4,283 First-class runs at the average of 37.24. In 2015, he smashed the first triple-hundred by a wicket-keeper-batter in the Ranji Trophy (308 vs Goa). Bharat also represented Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2021.
Hanuma Vihari, Prithvi Shaw left out
Surprisingly, middle-order batter Hanuma Vihari hasn't been included in the Test squad. Vihari last played the Sydney Test in January. He earned praise for his match-saving effort on the final day. The right-handed batter had cemented his spot in the middle order during India's recent overseas Test assignments. Besides, Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw, and Abhimanyu Easwaran have been left out too.
Jayant Yadav returns to the Test fold
Bowling all-rounder Jayant Yadav returns to the Test fold. The off-spinner played four Tests during the 2016/17 home season. He joins R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel in the spin attack. Jayant returns as cover for injured Washington Sundar.
New Zealand tour of India, 2021
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur will host the first T20I between India and New Zealand on November 17. Meanwhile, the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi and Eden Gardens in Kolkata will play host to the next two T20Is on November 19 and 21 respectively. The two Test matches will be held in Green Park, Kanpur (November 25-29) and Wankhede, Mumbai (December 3-7).