The Board Of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday announced the test squads for the home series against South Africa. The full squad for the three test matches is: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk),Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Shubman Gill.
The squad, however, did not include all-rounder Hardik Pandya, and Chief Selector MSK Prasad responded saying, "Where will we play him? Where is the slot? I don't think in Indian conditions he will be a good choice." Pandya has played 11 test matches for India so far. He made his debut in 2017 against Sri Lanka in Galle when he scored 50 runs in the first innings and took one wicket. His last test match was against England in Southampton in 2018 when he scored a total of four runs over the two innings. Overall, in his test career, he has made 532 runs with an average of 31.29 runs. The highest score has been 108.
While Hardik Pandya has been excluded, it is great news for batsman Shubhman Gill who got his first Test team call up for the South Africa series. Earlier this year, Gill had expressed his disappointment after not being selected for the West Indies series, but the opportunity has now been given to him by the selectors. Post Shubhman Gill's exclusion against West Indies, the youngster responded by scoring an unbeaten 204 runs off 248 balls after coming in at 14 for 3 for India A against West Indies A. This week, he scored 90 runs against South Africa A in Thiruvananthapuram. The youngster has scored 1443 runs in 23 first-class innings with an average of 72.15, with his highest score being 268 runs.
MSK Prasad also spoke about Rohit's inclusion in the squad saying that the team wants to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests. This would make one thing clear, that the Mumbai based player will most definitely be opening the innings for India in the first Test. Prasad also cleared the air around Dhoni's retirement as he said, "I am surprised where this news of MSD came from. No retirement plans as far as BCCI knows."