Hardik Pandya was not considered for selection as “he is still not in a position to bowl,” while a fit-again Ravindra Jadeja made his way back to a 20-strong Indian squad announced on Friday for next month’s World Test Championship final against New Zealand and a five-match series against England.
Along with Jadeja, batsman Hanuma Vihari and senior pacer Mohammed Shami also walked back into the side after missing the home series against England due to injuries.
All three had endured injuries during the away series against Australia earlier this year when India recorded one of their best triumphs.
Hardik, who was with the team during the home series against England but did not play, has not been picked because he is not fit enough to do the job with the ball. He can play as a specialist batsman in the shorter formats but has to bowl for a place in the Test team.
“Hardik Pandya is still not in a position to bowl. The experiment of selectors to keep him during England and prepare him with bowling workload has failed miserably. He will henceforth not be considered for Test cricket,” a BCCI source said.
The selectors also picked four standby players — Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, and Arzan Nagwaswalla, the BCCI stated in a press release.
Opener Easwaran and pacer Avesh Khan were also with the team during the England series while the extra pace did it for IPL regular Prasidh Krishna and Gujarat left-arm fast bowler Arzan Nagwaswalla, who had a stellar 2019-20 season. He is the only Parsi cricketer currently playing at the first-class level in India.
The 23-year-old left-arm pacer has 62 first-class wickets to his credit in 16 matches that he has played since his debut in 2018.
KL Rahul, who underwent surgery after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis, and Wriddhiman Saha, infected with COVID-19 during the recently-suspended IPL, have been included subject to fitness.
Out-of-form spinner Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Navdeep Saini have been left out of the squad, which is expected to depart for England for the twin assignments in the third week of this month.
Axar Patel has expectedly retained his place as the third spinner after a successful debut series against England.
Batting star Prithvi Shaw has not managed to impress the selectors with his white-ball form and has been overlooked. Also ignored was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, whose fitness woes continue to come in the way of a consistent run.
The WTC final against the Black Caps will be held from June 18 in Southampton followed by the Tests against England from August 4.
The Test series against England will start in Nottingham, followed by matches at the Lord’s (August 12 to 16), Leeds (August 25 to 29), The Oval (September 2 to 6) and Manchester (September 10 to 14).
India’s squad: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul (subject to fitness clearance), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper; subject to fitness clearance).
Standby players: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Arzan Nagwaswalla.