India Test squad vs New Zealand 2021: Seniors rested; J Yadav, Shreyas Iyer and S Gill recalled; Hanuma Vihari’s absence raises questions
India Test squad vs New Zealand 2021: India have announced a 16-member squad comprising of multiple changes for New Zealand Tests.
The senior selection committee has provided a much-deserved rest to the senior players for the upcoming two-match Test series against New Zealand.
As was reported yesterday, newly-elected T20I captain Rohit Sharma won’t be part of the Test series. Much like Sharma, wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant and fast bowling pair of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have also been rested. Unlike Sharma and Pant, Bumrah and Shami have also been rested from the T20I squad.
As for regular Test captain Virat Kohli, he will join the squad in the second Test scheduled to be played between December 3-7 in Mumbai. Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Indian team in the first Test in Kanpur with batter Cheteshwar Pujara named as his deputy.
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The 16-member Test squad comprises of multiple changes from the squad which had toured England earlier this year. Other than the aforementioned names, batters Abhimanyu Easwaran and Prithvi Shaw are also missing from the Test squad. It is worth mentioning that Easwaran and Shaw will be travelling to South Africa as part of the India A squad later this month.
India Test squad vs New Zealand 2021
Suryakumar Yadav, who had received a maiden Test call-up for the England tour, is neither part of the Test squad nor touring South Africa with the A team. Similarly, no rationale has been provided behind Shardul Thakur’s absence. Readers must note that Thakur isn’t part of the T20I squad either.
Having said that, the biggest omission which has raised questions is of Test specialist Hanuma Vihari. Having last played for India during the New Year’s Test in Sydney earlier this year, Vihari hasn’t received another opportunity at the highest level. The 28-year old player should’ve been the front runner to bat in the middle-order in Kohli and Sharma’s absence.
If reports are to be believed, Vihari is expected to be a late addition to the A team. With India A scheduled to play three first-class matches in South Africa before the senior team’s multi-format tour, Vihari might have been asked to prepare for an overseas tour. However, the same is isn’t still convincing enough a reason to not include him for a home Test series.
In Sharma’s absence, Mayank Agarwal appears to be the likeliest option to partner Lokesh Rahul at the top of the order. Shubman Gill, who had missed the Test series against England due to an injury, has been recalled. With a vacant middle-order spot, India might play Gill at No. 5 as well. Furthermore, Gill might face competition from Shreyas Iyer for the middle-order spot. Yet to make his Test debut, Iyer has been part of the Test squad in the past as well.
Much like Iyer, wicket-keeper batter Srikar Bharat has also been included in the squad as an additional option behind Wriddhiman Saha. Howbeit, the most surprising inclusion is that of a fourth spin-bowling option in Jayant Yadav. Having played the last of his four Tests in 2017, Yadav had played just two Ranji Trophy matches in the last season.
Test team India vs New Zealand 2021 – 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, Md. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.