Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund has been recalled to India’s squad as back-up opener for the one-off Test against Bangladesh beginning on February 9 in Hyderabad after more than five years out of the side.
India picked 16 players for the fixture, with batsmen M Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, allrounders Jayant Yadav and Hardik Pandya, and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha returning from injuries sustained during the recent home series against England in November and December.
Parthiv Patel, who stepped in as wicketkeeper for the last three Tests against England after Saha injured his left thigh, was left out, along with batsman Manish Pandey, who had been part of the squad for the last two Tests against England. Fast bowler Mohammed Shami was not selected; he had missed the fourth and fifth Tests against England because of a leg injury.
Abhinav last played for India in August 2011 during the tour of England. Though he has played for the A team several times since then, he could not make it back to the Test squad until now. His selection followed his scoring 849 runs in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy; he made a half-century or more seven times in 14 innings. Abhinav converted four of those into hundreds, the last of which came in the semi-final against Mumbai. His making the XI might be difficult though, considering Vijay and KL Rahul are India’s first-choice openers and their middle-order is back to full strength, with Rahane coming back from a finger injury and Karun Nair having made a triple-century in his most recent innings.
Saha’s return appeared imminent considering he struck a match-winning double-century for Rest of India against Gujarat in the Irani Cup soon after recovering from his thigh strain. Among those present at the match was chief selector MSK Prasad, who said he was the “No. 1 keeper batsman in the country.”
Parthiv had done well against England in a stand-in role, making 42, 67*, 15, 71 and later struck a superb hundred for Gujarat to help them win their maiden Ranji title. But his limitations behind the wicket might have pushed him out of the squad. “Parthiv’s glovework has definitely improved,” Prasad said. “But Saha has got better hands and that’s where he scores little more points than Parthiv.”
Ishant Sharma, who has played only one Test of the home season so far, was retained in the squad. He fell ill at the start of the season and then ceded his place as leader of India’s pace attack to Shami. He could be in line for a start against Bangladesh considering the squad has only three quicks – Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and himself. R Ashwin leads the spinners with Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant and Amit Mishra for support. The uncapped Pandya has been selected as a seam-bowling allrounder in the Test squad, and was named captain of the A team to play a three-day practice game against the Australians on February 16.
Test squad Virat Kohli (capt), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Abhinav Mukund, Hardik Pandya
India A squad for warm-up against Australians Hardik Pandya (capt), Akhil Herwadkar, Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawne, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan (wk), Shahbaz Nadeem, Krishnappa Gowtham, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Ashok Dinda, Mohammed Siraj, Rahul Singh, B Indrajith