India names unchanged squad for first two Tests against Australia
New Delhi: Indian selectors on Tuesday retained the 16-men squad that represented India in one-off Test against Bangladesh for the first two of the four-Test series against Australia, scheduled to begin from February 23 in Pune.
It was being speculated that Mohammed Shami, who was ruled out of the Indian team after the third Test against England due to a recurring knee injury, might get included in the squad, but he remains unselected for the much-awaited home series.
Rohit Sharma has failed to recover from his right-thigh injury which he sustained in October 2016 during the ODI series against New Zealand. Karun Nair, who to everyone's surprise, was excluded from the playing XI against Bangladesh despite slamming a mind-boggling triple-hundred, has been retained in the 16-member squad.
Abhinav Mukund has been included as the reserve opener, while uncapped left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav is chosen as the fourth spinner after Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav. It may be mentioned here that the super-hit spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja is right on top of the ICC Rankings for Test bowlers. Amit Mishra has failed to get a place in the squad.
This year, India and Australia are going to collide for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as the top two sides in the ICC Rankings for Test teams. India currently stands at the pole position with 121 rating points followed by Australia with 109. Australia had defeated India 2-0 in the last Border-Gavaskar Trophy that held in 2013-14.
India, however, is currently having dream run under the leadership of Virat Kohli as they have not suatained a single defeat since August 2015 in Sri Lanka. During the period, India has gone 19 Tests without a defeat, which is a record for India while the fifth-best streak in Test Cricket history.
With the 208-run win in the Hyderabad Test against Bangladesh, India registered its sixth consecutive series win, surpassing the previous record of five series wins during 2008-10 under the captainship of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Australia is yet to register a single Test win in Asia since August 2011 when they last defeated Sri Lanka in the first match of the three-Test series. Since then, the Kangaroo team has managed two draws and have lost nine consecutive matches. During the period, they lost 0-4 to India in 2013, 0-2 to Pakistan in UAE in 2014 and 0-3 to Sri Lanka in 2016.
In Slides: Schedule for the four-Test series between India and Australia
First Test – Pune (February 23-27)
Second Test – Bangalore (March 4 to 8)
Third Test – Ranchi (March 16 to 20)
Fourth Test – Dharamsala (March 25-29)
Before the start of the series, a two-day practise match between Australia and India A will be played at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai from February 16.
In Next Slides: 16-men squad for India vs Australia series
Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Abhinav Mukund, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.