Mumbai, Jan 12 (IANS) Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel made a return to the national squad as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday announced a 16-man squad for the first two Tests of the upcoming five-match series against England commencing on January 25 in Hyderabad.
The return of seasoned pacer Mohammed Shami, optimism was met with a dose of caution. Shami, on the comeback trail from an ankle injury, found himself omitted, perhaps as a strategic measure by the selectors and the BCCI medical staff.
The 33-year-old speedster has been out of cricketing action due to injury since the ODI World Cup final in November 2023.
The seam attack, led by vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah, comprised the fiery duo of Mohammed Siraj and the promising talents of Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan. The absence of Shami opened the door for these young pacers to make their mark on the international stage.
In the spin department, the formidable duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja was joined by the returning Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel. With a spin quartet of such caliber, India seemed ready to unleash a spin barrage against the English visitors.
While the focus was predominantly on the bowling lineup, a new face emerged in the form of Dhruv Jurel. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, the wicketkeeper-batsman earned his maiden call-up, adding depth to the wicketkeeping department alongside KL Rahul and KS Bharat. Rahul, who had donned the gloves in the Tests against South Africa, found himself flanked by a young and talented reserve.
Ishan Kishan, who had taken a break from the ongoing T20I series against Afghanistan, found himself absent from the Test squad. A notable inclusion was Avesh Khan, who, having replaced Shami in the South Africa tour, retained his spot despite being uncapped in Test cricket.
However, the saga took an unexpected turn as Prasidh Krishna, the debutant from Centurion, was omitted due to a quadriceps injury sustained during a Ranji Trophy clash. As the Karnataka team physio tended to Prasidh, questions arose about his road to recovery and whether he would link up with the India A support staff currently engaged in a two-day match against England Lions in Ahmedabad.
India squad for first two Tests vs England: Rohit Sharma (C ), S Gill, Y Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, S Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Dhruv Jurel (wk), R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Avesh Khan.