The BCCI announced the squads for the Test, ODI and T20 series in Australia and there are quite a few surprises. The squad will fly out to Australia soon after the 2020 IPL is concluded in the United Arab Emirates on Nov 10.
Indian players will go through a quarantine process in Australia and then prepare for a long and grueling tour which includes 4 test matches, 3 ODI games and 3 T20 games. The biggest surprise with the confirmed players to tour Australia is the absence of Rohit Sharma.
Test Squad: The selectors have gone in with four openers with the experienced KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw. Cheteshwar Pujara will take his place at number 3, followed by the skipper Virat Kohli at 4. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will be at 5 and number 6 will most likely be Hanuma Vihari as there is no Hardik Pandya in this squad.
Wriddhiman Saha will slot in at 7 as the wicket-keeper and Rishabh Pant is his back-up. The fast bowlers include standard trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami with Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj also making the cut. The selectors are going with three spinners including Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma miss out due to injury.
One of the big questions on the test tour will be whether Virat Kohli plays all four test matches which is unlikely as he is expecting his first child in early Jan and could miss out one of the test matches. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly said he has not spoken to Kohli about his plans as of now.
ODI Squad: The ODI squad also has a few changes as Shikhar Dhawan makes his way back into the squad and will likely open with KL Rahul who will also take the gloves as there is no reserve keeper for the ODI series. The selectors have retained Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal as backup openers who could also slot into the middle order. It will be interesting to see if they get a game, especially if they do well in the test matches.
Virat Kohli will captain the side as usual and slot in at number 3. The middle-order will also have Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya who will be the main all-rounder. The fast bowlers include Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur. The spinners for the ODI series are Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja.
It is a little baffling to see Hardik Pandya selected for the ODIs but left out for the test matches. The absence of Sanju Samson is also a blow as the selectors could have had him as a back-up wicket keeper and someone who can slot into the middle order.
T20 Squad: The selectors have gone with a tried and tested T20 squad with the addition of just a couple of players. Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul will likely open with Mayank Agarwal as a backup opener. Virat Kohli will captain the side and come in at three and will be backed up by Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson and Hardik Pandya. The fast bowlers will be Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar who makes a return to the T20 side. The spinners will be Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja and Varun Chakravarthy who impressed in IPL 2020.
Why No Rohit Sharma?
The big question is why has Rohit Sharma been omitted from all three squads. The BCCI claims that R Sharma is battling a hamstring injury and is not fit to travel to Australia. However, it is a puzzling question given the fact that R Sharma is training daily and captaining the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020.