Shubman Gill received a maiden call-up to the Test squad as India's selectors announced a 15-member squad to take on South Africa in the upcoming Test series. After struggling to hit his stride, KL Rahul got the axe, which could well mean Rohit Sharma gets bumped up the order to open the innings. The bowlers picked themselves after a stellar display in West Indies.However, Umesh Yadav was left out from the bowling contingent which travelled to West Indies. Also, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari made solid impression which leaves the team management to choose between Gill and Rohit as Mayank Agarwal's opening partner.
Chief selector confirmed after announcing the squad that Rohit would indeed open the innings. "Want to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests,"Prasad said after announcing the squad.
Rahul has struggled to find form after his century at the Oval. He did get off to starts against West Indies, but could kick on and get a substantial score. On the other hand, Gill has been in stellar form in the recent times. He was the top scorer for India 'A' against West Indies 'A' in the unofficial Test series. He became the youngest Indian to score a first-class double hundred during the series. His chances received a massive boost when he scored 90 and 5 in the first unofficial Test against South Africa A.
"It is unfortunate that Rahul couldn't perform consistently. He played well in patches," Prasad said.
Speaking about Shubman Gill, Prasad said that the young man had done well, both as opener as well as in the middle-order.
"Shubman Gill has done well both as an opener and a middle-order batsman. So yes, he can be a back-up opener if needed. There is no dearth of openers in the country. We have created a good pool of players. There is Priyank Panchal and Abhmanyu Easwaran who are doing really well in domestic circuit," said the chairman of selectors.
The first Test of the Gandhi-Mandela Trophy will be played in Visakhapatnam from October 2 before the teams hop across to Pune for the second Test from October 10. The final match of the tour will be played in Ranchi from October 19.
India's 15-member squad: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill