India have dropped KL Rahul from their 15-man squad for the three-match Test series against South Africa, starting next month. Shubman Gill, who hit 90 in an unofficial 'Test' against South Africa A in Thiruvananthapuram this week, has been called as a replacement. (ASHES LIVE)
Gill has played 14 first-class games and has scored 1,443 runs at an average of 72.15 with four centuries. This, however, isn't his first international call-up. The 20-year-old Punjab batsman made his ODI debut against New Zealand in January this year.
Rahul has paid the price for failing to get big scores. The 27-year-old hasn't managed a fifty-plus Test score since his 149 against England at The Oval last year. He looked tentative at the crease throughout the West Indies series in which he scored 13, 6, 44 and 38. (CRICKET NEWS)
"We definitely communicated to KL. He is an exceptional talent and unfortunately his form has dipped in red-ball cricket," said Prasad, the chairman of selectors.
"With Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay gone, we can't keep changing both the openers in the side. Someone had to stick around. And probably with seniors, who exiting, KL got more opportunities. Unfortunately, he was not delivering consistently. He delivered in patches and that's why we backed him because when he is on song, he is treat to watch."
Rohit Sharma, who couldn't make the cut in the playing XI against the Windies, will open alongside Mayank Agarwal, while Gill is set to be the reserve opener.
Prasad said: "We want to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests."
Also, Rohit will captain the Board President's XI, which will take on the South Africans in a three-day tour match in Vizianagaram from September 26.
Cheteshwar Pujara, at No.3, and skipper Virat Kohli, at No.4, were the automatic choices.
Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin are the three spinners, while Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are the three fast bowlers. Umesh Yadav, who was in the squad for the two West Indies Tests, has been left out.
The first Test will be held in Visakhapatnam from October 2-6, while the second and third Tests will take place in Pune (October 10-14) and Ranchi (October 19-23).
Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (Wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill
Board President’s XI
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav