Experienced leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who last played a Test for India four years ago, has made a comeback to the Indian squad for next month’s tour of Sri Lanka.
Mishra, who replaced an injured Karn Sharma, was the only change in the Indian side which will play three Tests in the island nation from August 12 to September 1.
Young Karnataka opener K.L. Rahul, who had missed out on the Bangladesh tour due to illness, also features in the 15-member team, which was announced following a meeting of the selection committee here on Thursday.
Captain Virat Kohli, who had taken a break after the Bangladesh tour and will lead India for the first time in a full-fledged Test series, has expressed a desire to play in a ‘Test’ against Australia ‘A’ and the BCCI has allowed him to play in the second unofficial Test starting in Chennai on July 29.
Selection committee chairman Sandeep Patil said the selectors had given priority to the form and fitness of the players while finalising the squad.
“We have always tried to get the balance right and keep the wickets in mind. This is the best possible combination in our bowling department,” said Patil at a press conference.
Karn and pacer Mohammad Shami, who had a knee injury, were not considered as they had not recovered fully.
Commenting on 32-year-old Mishra’s return to the squad after a long gap, Patil said the Haryana leg-spinner was always on the radar of the selectors.
“Mishra was always in the scheme of things; even last year he was in the reserves (against the West Indies). But the final XI is the team management’s discretion.”
On the presence of three experienced spinners, Patil said, “We are happy that Harbhajan has come strong (following his comeback). We want the spin attack consisting of Mishra, Harbhajan and Aswhin to deliver.”
Patil said left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha’s name had come up for discussion, but, considering the requirements for the Sri Lanka tour, the selectors had settled for Mishra.
Saying that the selectors were happy with the way the young Indian team, under the leadership of Ajinkya Rahane, performed in Zimbabwe, Patil remarked: “we will support players not looking at their age but their form and fitness. We will see whether they fit into the combination.”
Accepting that the pattern of team selection had changed following Kohli taking over as captain, Patil said, “When a captain changes, it makes a difference.
“Everyone has his own style. Someone is aggressive, someone is defensive. When Dhoni was the captain, the Indian team performed very well. When Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman retired, we thought we would not get replacements. But we did.” (Courtesy The Hindu)