BCCI announces India's squad for WTC final: Rahane returns after 15 months, KL Rahul in; Iyer, Bumrah ruled out

India's squad for WTC final vs Australia announced: The side sees the return of Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul while Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah were ruled out

BCCI announces India's squad for WTC final: Rahane returns after 15 months, KL Rahul in; Iyer, Bumrah ruled out

Ajinkya Rahane returned to the Indian side on the back of a stellar run in IPL 2023 as BCCI announced a 15-man Indian squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia to be played at The Oval in England from June 7, this year. The side also sees the return of KL Rahul after he was dropped from the last two Tests of the Australia series.

Rahane has returned to the Indian side after 15 months. He last featured in the South Africa Test series in January 2022. Rahane's form for CSK in IPL, albeit in an entirely different format, is believed to be the biggest reason behind his comeback. The other major reason is the absence of middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer and wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant.

Iyer has recently undergone back surgery and is expected to be out of action for some time. Pant, on other hand, has started his slow recovery process after suffering a car accident in December last year.

Rahane has been in stellar form in this IPL. He has scored 209 runs in just five innings for CSK at a staggering strike rate of 199.05 which is 62 more than his previous best in 2019. One, however, should not forget that Rahane also scored 634 runs in 7 matches at an average of 57 in the last Ranji Trophy.

Apart from Rahane, senior pro KL Rahul has also made it to the 15-man squad after being stripped of vice-captaincy and a place in the squad in the final two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia. Rahul, however, is unlikely to be considered as an opener. He instead, can don the gloves and bat in the middle-order as designated keeper-batter KS Bharat may not find a place in the XI due to his vulnerabilities with the bat.

In English conditions, where the ball is expected to swing, the team management has fallen back on the experience of Rahul and Rahane.

The spin-bowling all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have held on to their places in the squad. It is, however, unlikely that the three of them will play together. In fact, if the conditions are favourable for seamers then the management could opt for Shardul Thakur as the fourth pacer, which will mean only one among Ashwin, Jadeja or Axar will play as a spinner.

In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, who is also ruled out because of a back injury, the onus of leading the pace attack will fall on Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. The battle for the third seamer will be between veterans Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav. Considering the Indian team management's reluctance of playing Umesh in overseas conditions, Unadkat, who also gives the left-arm angle, may be preferred.

There was expectedly no place for Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. Sarfaraz Khan's name surely would have been up for discussion after his stellar Ranji seasons but his weakness against top-quality pace was laid bare in this IPL.

India’s Test squad WTC final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat.