Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Indian team in the first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur (November 25-29), in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli.
Kohli will return as captain for the second Test in Mumbai (December 3-7).
No reasons given
India will also miss the services of Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami for both Tests. The BCCI press release did not mention any reason for the omission of Kohli and the other big names.
Middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari, who has been named in the India-A squad for the South Africa tour, was a surprise exclusion. In his last Test, at Sydney against Australia earlier this year, Vihari courageously batted with a hamstring tear to save the match.
Saha likely to keep
Wriddhiman Saha is expected to keep wickets in the absence of Pant. The 37-year-old Saha last played a Test in December 2020, in the first Test defeat to Australia when India was bowled out for 36.
Andhra’s K.S. Bharat, who enjoyed a good IPL season with Royal Challengers Bangalore, is the second wicketkeeper in the squad.
Uncapped Karnataka pacer Prasidh Krishna, who was added to the Indian Test squad in the recent tour of England, has also been picked.
K.L. Rahul is likely to open the batting with Mayank Agarwal, while Shreyas Iyer could take Kohli’s place in the middle-order for the first Test.
R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav form the spin attack. Jayant’s last Test came in February 2017, against Australia at Pune.
The tour commences with three T20Is.
The squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), K.L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha, K.S. Bharat, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna. (Virat Kohli will join the squad for the second Test and will lead the team).
The schedule: First Test: Kanpur (November 25-29), Second: Mumbai (December 3-7).