Spin-bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja on Friday returned to the Indian Test team for the tour of England while the Indian Premier League (IPL), postponed midway due to Covid-19, put paid to Hardik Pandya’s hopes of proving his fitness as a bowler too.
The selectors picked a 20-member squad for the tour of England that comprises World Test Championship final against New Zealand on June 18 and five-Test series against England in August-September.
India play the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand in Southampton from June 18. This Test will be followed by a five-Test series against England in August-September. The first Test begins on August 4 and the final Test is scheduled to end on September 14.
Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene had suggested during the early phase of the IPL that Pandya could be tried as a bowler in the later phase of the league, only if he overcomes a shoulder niggle he was suffering from.
Pandya, who bowled a few overs in India’s limited-overs series against England, however, is far from fit.
According to sources, the Indian team management isn’t still sure about his bowling.
India skipper Virat Kohli had told the media during the Australia tour late last year that Pandya could find a place in the Test squad only as an all-rounder, and not as a pure batsman. He said this after the Baroda player had shown interest in staying back for the Test leg of Australia tour, following his good performance with the bat in the white-ball series.
Pandya delivered 17 overs in the home T20 International series against England, bowling in each game of the series. He also bowled nine overs in the final ODI.
MI director of cricket, Zaheer Khan, too had said during the IPL that Pandya’s shoulder niggle and his inability to bowl was creating imbalance for the franchise.
Pandya had undergone back surgery in 2019 and emerged from it to play only as a batsman in the 2020 IPL. He then toured Australia for the white ball series and did well.
Jadeja, however, found a place in the Test squad after he recovered from a thumb injury that he suffered during the third Test in Australia in Sydney. He missed the fourth Test against Australia as well as the four-Test home series against England.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who replaced Jadeja in the England Tests and picked 27 wickets in three Tests, has retained his place in the squad.
Pace bowlers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, too, return to the squad. Shami had fractured his forearm during the first Test in Australia. He missed the next three Tests in Australia as well as the home Test series against England.
Yadav had missed the last two Tests in Australia and wasn’t played in the home Test series against England.
India are taking six pacers to England. The other pacers are Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Jasprit Burmah, who also returns after missing the last Test against England owing to his marriage.
Besides, India are carrying three additional pacers — Avesh Khan, Arzan Nagwaswalla, and Prasidh Krishna — as standbys. Abhimanyu Easwaran is the lone batsman among four standby players announced.
Batsman KL Rahul and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha have also been included. Saha’s inclusion is, however, subject to his fitness clearance.
Rahul had to undergo surgery after he pulled out of the IPL due to appendicitis while Saha is down with Covid-19.
Following their 3-1 win against England at home, India finished as the No.1 side on the points table with 72.2 percentage points and booked their place in the WTC final.
India’s squad: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad 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