India have named a 16-man squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand. As expected, Rohit Sharma will miss both the ODI and Test leg of the tour with a calf injury. Mayank Agarwal has been named as his replacement in ODI format. Young guns Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill will battle it to to be Agarwal’s opening partner during the Test series. The absence of Rohit Sharma though will be a big blow, as the team will have to field an inexperienced opening pair in both the formats.
Ishant Sharma also features in the squad, but his availability will be subject to medical clearance. Along with him, four other pacers will be a part of the squad – Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini. The spin department will be led by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Kuldeep Yadav fails to make the cut as the team management believed that two tweakers would do the trick on the green wickets in New Zealand.
There is no place for KL Rahul in the squad, despite his sensational form in limited-overs cricket. The middle-order will be consisted of tried and tested performers – skipper Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. Hanuma Vihari will act as their backup and also could slot in if the management decide to play six specialist batters. Wriddhiman Saha will be the first-choice keeper with Rishabh Pant as his designated backup.
The two-match Test series between India and New Zealand will begin on February 21st in Wellington. The series will conclude on March 4th in Christchurch.
Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Ishant Sharma (subject to medical clearance)