Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal has been finally rewarded for his consistent performances over the last year after The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) named him in the 15-man squad for the two-Test series against Windies. Mohammed Siraj has also earned a maiden Test call-up after his recent exploits with the India A team.
Agarwal, who amassed 1160 runs in the 2017/18 Ranji Trophy season, had been pushing his case for India selection with consistent performances for the 'A' team. The 27-year-old replaces Shikhar Dhawan in the squad. Agarwal scored 90 for Board President's XI in the ongoing practice match against Windies earlier on Saturday.
Dhawan, after an underwhelming England tour, was given the axe while KL Rahul's heroics in the fifth Test of the England series helped him retain his spot. Mumbai's Prithvi Shaw is the other opener in the Indian team. Karun Nair, who warmed the bench during the England Test series, has also been dropped while Kuldeep Yadav has been recalled to the squad after he was released for the last three Tests against Joe Root's men.
India were sweating over Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma's fitness. Ashwin was rested for the final Test of the England tour after aggravating a hip injury while Ishant Sharma had left the field during England's second dig in the Oval Test. However, Ashwin has been declared fit for the two Tests, which will be played at Rajkot and Hyderabad. But Ishant and Hardik Pandya are still recovering from their respective injuries and have not been selected.
The MSK Prasad-led committee has decided to rest pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar 'taking stock of the recent workload'. Bumrah played in three Tests in England and the Asia Cup while Bhuvneshwar missed the England tour but made a comeback in the Asia Cup.
India captain Virat Kohli, who was rested for the Asia Cup, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara will continue to bat in the middle order. The selectors have also backed Rishabh Pant as Wriddhiman Saha continues to remain unavailable due to his injury. Hanuma Vihari will be the reserve batsman in the squad.
There will be extra focus on Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Siraj and Thakur as India travel to Australia for the four-Test series after the Windies assignment. The pacers will be key to India's chances Down Under and their performances will give the selectors a fair idea ahead of the important tour.
The first Test will be played at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot from 4 to 9 October, followed by the second match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad from 12 to 16 October.
Indian team for the Windies Tests: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur