Shikhar Dhawan and Karun Nair have been dropped from the Indian team that will play West Indies in a two-match Test series starting October 4. This means India are likely to go in with another new opening combination with one of Mayank Agarwal or Prithvi Shaw making their Test debut when they walk out alongside KL Rahul in Rajkot next week.
Virat Kohli will return to captain India after a three-week break. He’ll have to make do with many of the team’s first choice bowlers unavailable. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been rested. Ishant Sharma, who picked up an ankle injury during the Oval Test earlier this month, and Hardik Pandya, who suffered a stress fracture of his back in the Asia Cup, were not considered for selection. In their absence, Mohammed Siraj was called up to the Test side for the first time. The 24-year old seamer from Hyderabad is in red-hot form having picked up 40 wickets in nine first-class matches, including an 11-for against Australia A.
Dhawan’s axe came on the back of a poor series in England, where he managed a top score of only 44 in eight innings. Nair, meanwhile, never got to play in any of the five Tests, and as it happened in the final one at the Oval, he seems to have lost out in a race with reserve batsman Hanuma Vihari.
With India needing an opener, Agarwal finally got his reward for a prolific 2017-18 season in which he scored 2253 runs in 36 innings across formats. The 27-year old from Karnataka was a consistent performer for the A team as well, both on tour in England and at home, when he played against Australia A and South Africa A. He also scored 90 off 111 deliveries against the West Indians in the warm-up game earlier on Saturday.
R Ashwin, who recently struggled with a hip injury, will lead India’s spin attack again, alongside Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur round off the fast-bowling resources. Ajinkya Rahane, who has only two half-centuries in his last ten innings, remains vice-captain, while Rishabh Pant, who became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a hundred in England, retained the gloves.