Mumbai, Nov 10: Uncapped Karnataka's young opening batsman KL Rahul was today included in the Indian Test squad to tour Australia while Suresh Raina made a comeback.
Exclusive: Rahul Dravid on Rahul
MS Dhoni will lead the 19-man squad while he will not be available for the opening of the four Tests starting December 4, due to an injury to his right thumb. Virat Kohli will captain the team.
"Virat Kohli will lead India in the first Test, starting on 4 December 2014, in Brisbane. MS Dhoni has been rested for the first Test as a prophylactic measure to ensure optimum recovery. He will join the team from the second Test onwards, and will lead the team for the rest of the Test series," BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said in a media release today. (Rahul will serve Indian cricket for long time: Bedi)
"Dhoni is suffering from a thumb injury. He is on the right track. It has been further decided to rest him for one more Test, so that everything is fine. It was suggested by his physicist and doctors and after that this decision was taken. It is a right thumb injury," Patel said.
The 22-year-old Rahul impressed in the recently concluded Duleep Trophy. He hit centuries in both innings for South Zone against East Zone in the final. He had done well in last season's Ranji Trophy when his side Karnataka won the title. At 22, Rahul is the youngest member of the squad. In 27 first-class matches, Rahul has scored 2,100 runs at an average of over 50 with 6 centuries.
Left-handed Raina, who has been in great form in limited overs, has got a chance to revive his Test career. He has not played a Test since September 2012.
Railways legspinner Karn Sharma has played only one Twenty20 International so far. He was impressive in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
In this big squad of 19, Rahul, Karn and Naman Ojha are the only three without Test experience. There are 5 fast bowlers and 3 spinners. Dhoni will have 2 reserve wicketkeepers in Wriddhiman Saha and Ojha. However, Ojha will return after the first Test.
"What we have announced today was basically not a 19-member squad, it was 18. For the first Test, Naman Ojha has been added as a replacement of MS Dhoni in case there is a need for a second wicketkeeper. As soon as the first Test is over and Dhoni joins the team, Naman Ojha will come back," Patel told reporters after the selection committee meeting.
India Test Squad
MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Naman Ojha (wicketkeeper), R Ashwin, Karn Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.
India-Australia Test Series 2014-15 Schedule
1st Test (Brisbane) - December 4-8
2nd Test (Adelaide) - December 12-16
3rd Test (Melbourne) - December 26-30
4th Test (Sydney) - January 3-7, 2015