India have announced a 16-member squad for the three-Test Sri Lanka tour that begins at the end of the month with Rohit Sharma returning back to the fold. The Mumbai batsman had not played a Test since the final Test against New Zealand last year due to a thigh injury that kept him out for five months. He returned to play the Indian Premier League and lifting the trophy with Mumbai Indians and then played important innings at the top of the order in the ICC Champions Trophy where India went on to play the final against Pakistan before losing. He was subsequently rested from India’s tour of West Indies which comprised of five ODIs and a solitary T20I. Captain Virat Kohli said it was important to rest a player who had just returned from injury to ensure it doesn’t turn into a recurring one.
With Rohit’s return to the side, Karun Nair, who was his replacement, has been dropped from the squad. The axe has also fallen on off-spinner Jayant Yadav.
There is place, however, for allrounder Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul. Joining KL Rahul in players fit again and finding their place back in the squad is Murali Vijay who has recovered from his wrist and shoulder injury. KL Rahul hadn’t played since the Australia Test series because of injury.
Abhinav Mukund has edged Shikhar Dhawan as backup opener in the team despite the latter’s explosive job with the bat at the Champions Trophy. He had formed a strong pair with Rohit at the top of the pyramid. With Mukund’s selection, his place in the India A squad for South Africa tour comes into question. That tour is scheduled for July-August while the series in Lanka ends on August 16. Nair will be the captain in the side for the four-day matches.
Pandya will be making his Test debut should he feature in the starting XI. He had been called-up to the Test side in November last year for the series against England. But he hurt his right shoulder then to be withdrawn. He was then included in the Test squad for the first two matches against Australia but didn’t feature.
India will begin the tour by playing a two-day practice game in Colombo on July 21. The first Test, to be played in Galle, begins on July 26. Thereafter the two teams shift to Colombo for second Test (August 3) and Pallekele (August 12). Later, India play five ODIs and a single T20I.
Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhimann Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.