Seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will no more be an automatic choice in the Indian Test XI as wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are likely to be tried in the longest format of the game as well.
Virat Kohli is keen on getting Chahal into the Test set-up, according to The Times of India. The Indian skipper was mulling about playing the Royal Challengers Bangalore spinner for the upcoming one-off Test against Afghanistan, starting June 14 in Bengaluru, the report adds.
"Virat has given Chahal enough feelers. But now that Virat has himself backed out of the Test, it could be interesting if the selectors stick with Chahal," a source close to the development, was quoted as saying.
All eyes will be on the selection committee meeting that will be held in Bengaluru on Tuesday, May 8. The Indian squads for the Afghanistan Test, Ireland T20Is, England ODIs and T20Is along with the India A squads for England tour will be picked later today.
Spin twins Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been India's biggest match-winners over the last few years as Kohli's men have decimated visiting teams in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 home seasons. Notably, the Kings XI Punjab skipper had finished on top of Test bowling charts in 2015 and 2016, which was also the year in which he won the ICC Cricketer of the Year Award.
Both Ashwin and Jadeja have been consistently among the top-five in the Test bowlers' list but they are no more in contention for spots in ODI and T20I teams. Notably, both the spinners haven't played limited overs cricket for India since the West Indies tour in June-July 2017.
'Ashwin will face competition from Chahal and Kuldeep in England'
Kuldeep and Chahal have repaid the faith the management has shown in them by picking up wickets in the middle overs, unlike Jadeja and Ashwin. The wrist-spinners played a crucial role in India's historic ODI series win in South Africa earlier this year as they had picked up 33 wickets between them in six matches.
Meanwhile, the report also states that Ashwin might be rested for the Afghanistan Test to give Kuldeep and Chahal a bit of red ball exposure at the highest-level ahead of the England tour, starting July 3 in Manchester.
However, the 31-year-old off-spinner has reportedly not renewed his county deal with Worcestershire this season in order to make himself available for the Test.
The wrist-spinners are expected to provide stiff competition to Ashwin and Jadeja, who still remain the frontrunners for Test spots, in England, a source close to the Indian team management told the newspaper.
It also added that Kohli had wanted Chahal for the Test series in South Africa but the selection committee only picked pacer Jasprit Bumrah as the extra member in the squad.
"Ashwin may well travel to England for Tests but he will face stiff competition from Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. There are also talks of resting Ashwin against Afghanistan so that the wrist spinners get a feel of Test cricket," the source said.
"Kohli is batting strongly for Chahal and Bumrah. He wanted both for Test matches in South Africa despite both having very little experience of bowling with the red ball. But he was granted just Bumrah."
Nonetheless, Ashwin and Jadeja have played key roles for their respective Indian Premier League franchises this year. The latter came had come up with a match-winning spell for Chennai Super Kings against Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 5.