India’s newly-appointed T20 captain Rohit Sharma is set to be rested from the two-match Test series against New Zealand while Virat Kohli will miss the opening match as a “mentally and physically exhausted” Team India gets down to workload management during the home assignment.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will lead the side in the opening Test in Kanpur as Kohli extends his break after opting out of the three-match T20 series starting November 17 in Jaipur.
It is learnt from a reliable BCCI source that the squad has been finalised after a meeting of the selection committee on Thursday but a formal announcement is still awaited.
Other bigwigs who will sit out both the Tests, to be held in Kanpur and Mumbai, are wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, and the pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
Rohit will take this break after leading the team in the T20 series. The Tests are scheduled to start on November 25 in Kanpur.
Kohli will be back for the second game in Mumbai from December 3. The Indian Test and ODI captain has spoken extensively about the bubble fatigue and how it has been taking a toll on the players mentally.
In Pant’s absence, Wriddhiman Saha will take over the wicket-keeping duties with KS Bharath acting as the second keeper for the series.
The 28-year-old Bharath, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, has only played in the IPL, signed up by Royal Challengers Bangalore, this year.
He was among the five standby players for the home Test series against England this year.
The rest of the squad comprises the usual suspects with Test regulars like Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal expectedly finding their way in.
New support staff checks in:
As was expected, Paras Mhambrey will join the team as the new bowling coach replacing Bharat Arun, whose tenure ended with India’s campaign in the T20 World Cup.
Arun and head coach Ravi Shastri’s stint came to a halt with the team’s last group stage match against Namibia.
Mhambrey is close to new head coach Rahul Dravid and was part of the support staff during a second-string India’s tour of Sri Lanka in July this year where Dravid served as head coach.
Vikram Rathour has been retained as the batting coach after he reapplied for the position, while T Dilip is the new fielding coach.
Dravid, it is learnt, wanted Abhay Sharma to be the fielding coach but the Cricket Advisory Committee has gone with Dilip, who had travelled with the Indian team during the July tour of Sri Lanka.
The 39-year-old was the fielding coach of the Hyderabad team and has also worked with the India A side in the past.
Likely squad for Test series against New Zealand:
Ajinkya Rahane (captain), K L Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, KS bharath (wk), Ravindra Jadeja.