Suryakumar Yadav’s incredible exploits in T20I cricket have propelled him into the Test arena, with the 32-year-old batsman picked in a 17-member squad to play for India against Australia. The squad, selected for only the first two Tests of the four-game home series, includes another player who has made a name for himself on the white ball circuit. Ishan Kishan joined first-choice goalkeeper Rishabh Pant in recovery after a car accident.
India enters the Border-Gavaskar series, starting on February 9, with the spearhead of their stuck-pace attack on the sidelines. Not long ago, Jasprit Bumrah looked set to return to cricket after recovering from a stress reaction to his back. But in the process of getting used to normal workloads again, he felt stiffness in his right buttock and now at least another month of rehabilitation has been recommended.
Ravindra Jadeja is coming off his own long-term injury break. The left-arm spin bowling all-rounder has been picked into the squad and could have a huge role to play in a home series that India need to win 3-1 or better to secure a place in the World Test Championship final. Jadeja has not played any cricket since August 2022. He was originally due to return during the tour of Bangladesh late last year, but it emerged that he needed more time to recover from knee surgery carried out in September. Even now, the BCCI has noted in its press release announcing the team that Jadeja’s inclusion “is subject to fitness.”
India’s Test batting is set to get a rhythm injection if Kishan or Suryakumar make it to the XI. Both players have strike ratings above 60 in first-class cricket. But getting them in remains a challenge.
Captain Rohit Sharma, Vice-Captain KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli will likely take the top four spots. Shreyas Iyer should rank at No. 5 or 6 given his recent form: he averaged 101
in India’s most recent Test series, against Bangladesh in December 2022, while Shubman Gill looks like the first reserve for opening and mid-order roles. Kishan has been appointed as wicketkeeper in the team, so he will face KS Bharat, who has long been Pant’s understudy.
On the bowling front, Mohammed Shami will become the attacking leader with support from Mohammed Siraj, who enjoyed a stellar debut series against Australia when India defeated them on home soil in 2020-21, Jaydev Unadkat, the left-hander who recently broke a 12-year spell between Test Matches and Umesh Yadav. Hardik Pandya, although a regular part of India’s cue ball setup, is not part of the Test squad. It is known that he still does not have the aptitude to bowl long stints in red ball cricket. R Ashwin will be the rotating leader with Jadeja, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav backing him up.
Changes between India’s latest test kit and this one
In: Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav
Outside: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Rishabh Pant, Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Shardul Thakur.