Rohit, Bumrah, Shami, Pant rested for New Zealand Tests

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12 Nov 2021 | 07:00 AM staff

Rohit, Bumrah, Shami, Pant rested for New Zealand Tests

Indian Test captain Virat Kohli will also miss the first Test but will return for the second game

India have rested Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant for the two-match Test series against New Zealand, starting from November 25 in Kanpur. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli will only be available for the second Test in Mumbai, and in his absence, Ajinkya Rahane will lead the side in the first encounter.

Shreyas Iyer and wicketkeeper KS Bharat have also been named in the squad, while there was no place for Hanuma Vihari. India have also retained Prasidh Krishna who travelled with the team to England. Jayant Yadav, who played his last Test in February 2017, also makes his return. Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw and Abhimanyu Easwaran, who were all part of the Test squad in England, have also been left out.

Iyer has been part of the Test squad in the past but is yet to make his debut for India in red-ball cricket. The Indian team management is looking for a couple of long-term options in the middle-order and that's where Iyer could seal his place. The 26-year-old has scored 4592 runs in 54 first-class encounters at an average of 52.18.

In the absence of pant, India have brought Bharat as Wriddhiman Saha's back-up. The Andhra wicketkeeper-batter has 4283 runs in 78 first-class games at an average of 37.24. The right-hander even slammed 308 against Goa in February 2015 and became the first wicketkeeper-batter to score a triple century in the Ranji Trophy.

One of the notable absentees from the Test side was Vihari, who has been dropped from the squad. Vihari, it is learnt, is being added to the India A squad for the tour of South Africa where he will get three matches to stake a claim in the main squad which will start its series in the last week of December.

"We are sending Vihari to South Africa for the A series and his performance in the three 'A Test' matches will be monitored," a senior BCCI functionary confirmed the development to PTI.

According to sources close to the selection committee, Vihari's current form, and not past record, has been taken into account while selecting the Test squad. Vihari, in his last six first-class innings for county team Warwickshire, produced scores of 32, 52, 8, 0, 24, and 43 not out. In the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, his output across four innings read 26, 7, 57 and 4.

It is understood that Vihari's defensive game is pretty similar to that of both Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane. The reason behind including a more flamboyant Iyer is that against the second new ball, he can play a counter-attacking knock.

Apart from Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, India also have Axar Patel and Jayant in the spin department. Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna are the four pacers in the squad.

Bumrah, Shami, Thakur and Kohli have already been rested for the three-match T20I series (November 17-21). Majority of the players have been on the road since June, starting with the World Test Championship final in England, which must have prompted the selectors to take the decision.

Squad: Ajinkya Rahane (c), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vc), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.

* Virat Kohli will join the squad for second Test and lead the side.

(With inputs from PTI)

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New Zealand tour of India, 2021IndiaRishabh PantShreyas IyerVirat KohliRohit SharmaJasprit BumrahJayant YadavSrikar Bharat

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