Captain Virat Kohli, all-rounder Hardik Pandya, and fast bowler Ishant Sharma will return to the Indian squad for the first two Tests against England, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Tuesday (January 19).
The five-match Test series begins in Chennai on February 5. India will continue its bid to reach the World Test Championship final under Virat Kohli's leadership. The star batsman flew back to Mumbai after the first Test against Australia to attend his first child's birth.
Ishant Sharma, who has recovered from his side strain injury and is currently representing Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, will lead a four-pronged pace attack comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Shardul Thakur.
The addition of seam-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be a massive boost to India's overall balance and flexibility. After playing the ODIs and T20s Down Under, the Pandya returned home to work on his fitness.
Some of the prominent names to have missed out had left Australia with injuries. Ravindra Jadeja (dislocated thumb), Hanuma Vihari (hamstring), Navdeep Saini (groin), Umesh Yadav (calf muscle), and Mohammad Shami (fractured arm) are yet to attain full fitness. The only two unforced exclusions are opener Prithvi Shaw and seamer T Natarajan, who picked three wickets on his Test debut in Gabba..
KL Rahul and Ravichandran Ashwin, who suffered wrist and back injuries respectively, keep their places. The only new face in the contingent is 26-year-old Axar Patel, who bowls left-arm orthodox and is a decent batsman to bridge the top-order and the tail.
Squad list of India for first two Tests against England
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel