The Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) announced the 18-member squad that will take on Australia for the four-Test series that is slated to start from December 6.
While the omission of Shikhar Dhawan, who was dropped from the recently-concluded series against West Indies, was hardly surprising, a number of picks, like the comeback of Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma, did raise a few eyebrows.
The Tamil Nadu opener was dropped from the last three Tests in England after a string of dismal showings on the tour, including a pair at Lord's. However, he signed up for a stint with the county side Essex and churned out some impressive performances. Vijay notched up four consecutive 50+ scores, including a ton, which forced MSK Prasad & Co. To turn back to him, just as questions around his international future were doing the rounds.
"Vijay was dropped from the England series but went back and played county. He showed intent and performed well. Considering the intensity of the series, we selected him", chief selector Prasad was quoted as saying.
Inclusion of Rohit: The Mumbai Indians captain once again made a comeback into the Test squad based on his ODI performances. The opener in white-ball cricket has been in the news recently due to his efficient captaincy skills when Virat Kohli is absent and his consistent form.
However, he has hardly been inspiring in the whites, averaging just 39, but that has not stopped the experts from wanting him in the squad.
A few days ago, Sourav Ganguly too had asked for the inclusion of Rohit in the Test team, considering his heroics with the bat in recent times.
However, Test cricket is a whole different ball-game, and the Mumbaikar has failed to impress. Rohit was selected in the squad to South Africa earlier this year due to his consistent showing in LOIs, but he failed to pitch in with something substantial in the Rainbow Nation.
He was dropped from the England series thereafter and did not play against Windies, which forces one to ask what the right-hander has done to warrant a place over more talented youngsters.
Exclusion of Mayank Agarwal: With the return of Vijay, Mayank Agarwal, who had been selected for the recently-concluded West Indies Tests, was dropped. The Karnataka batsman did not feature in a single game and was unceremoniously ousted without even getting an opportunity to fail. The phenomenon in FC cricket, Agarwal's omission seems uncannily similar to Karun Nair's, who too was dropped from the squad after failing to get a game in England.
The rest of the squad though sees familiar faces. Hardik Pandya not selected as he is yet to recover and Parthiv Patel, who is in decent form in domestic cricket, is the back-up opener to Rishabh Pant. Kuldeep Yadav will be the third spinner in the side.
Team for Four Test match series against Australia
Virat Kohli (c), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Shami, Ishant, Umesh, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.