India’s selectors have recalled middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma and uncapped allrounder Hardik Pandya to the Test squad for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka, while retaining Abhinav Mukund as the reserve opener. Kuldeep Yadav retains his place as the third spinner behind R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, having claimed four wickets on debut in Dharamsala in March, and KL Rahul is slated to play his first international match since the fourth Test against Australia in late March, having completed his rehabilitation from injury.
The Sri Lanka tour marks India’s return to Test cricket after a four-month gap from when they regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in March. From that squad, Karun Nair has made way for the returning Rohit, who has not played a Test since October on account of a leg injury and subsequent rehabilitation; the off-spinning allrounder Jayant Yadav and uncapped batsman Shreyas Iyer have also been dropped.
Pandya, a regular in India’s ODI and T20I squads, has previously been a part of the Test setup but has not received his maiden cap on account of injury last season. He adds strength to a pace-bowling unit comprising Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
This will be Rohit’s first Test series since the New Zealand visit last October, when he scored 238 runs at an average 79.33 with three half-centuries. His 21-Test career – which began in startling manner in November 2013 with 177 and 11* against West Indies – remains a work in progress, for between those first two Tests and the start of the home series against New Zealand last year, he averaged 23.50 in 29 innings with four fifties. With a good run in the Champions Trophy, the 30-year-old will hope to slot back into India’s middle order and continue from where he left off.
The series comprises three Tests, five ODIs and one T20I. The first Test starts in Galle on July 26, followed by matches at the SSC in Colombo from August 3 and Pallekele from August 12. The ODIs will be played on August 20, 24, 27, 31 and September 3, and the T20I on September 6.
The third Test will be India’s first in Pallekele. The last time India toured Sri Lanka was two years ago, when Kohli’s team won the Test series 2-1 after losing the first match in Galle. India are No 1 in Tests, and Sri Lanka ranked seventh.
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Kuldeep Yadav, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Umesh Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Hardik Pandya.