Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya Back as India Announce 18-Member Squad for First Two Tests against England
Virat Kohli (Credit: IANS)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday announced a 18-member squad for the first two-Test of the four-match series against England. The Test series will start from February 5 in Chennai.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who was on paternity leave after the first Test against Australia, has returned to the squad to lead the team. While senior pacer Ishant Sharma who missed out the Australia tour due to back injury also got his place back in the squad as the per the ESPN Cricinfo.

Flamboyant India all-rounder Hardik Pandya also returned to India’s Test team set-up is expected to bowl with new bowling action in the Test series.

While Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari and Umesh Yadav missed out their place in the squad after sustaining injuries during the Australia tour.

T Natarajan, who impressed everyone with his bowling skills during Australia tour, also missed out his place for first two Tests. While Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur got chance after lethal bowling in the Brisbane Test.

Flamboyant all-rounder Axar Patel is the surprise inclusion in the squad as the southpaw is expected to fill the shoes of injured Jadeja. While Washington Sundar also gets picked for the first two Tests alongside Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav in the spin department.

Prithvi Shaw has been axed from the squad after a dismal show in the first two Test against Australia.

KL Rahul, who returned to India midway from Australia due to injury, has also been included in the squad but is expected to miss the opening Test against England.

India squad: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul (subject to fitness after first Test), Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel

Standbys: KS Bharat (wicketkeeper), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar

Net bowlers: Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, K Gowtham, Saurabh Kumar