K L Rahul, Karn Sharma make cut for Australia; Dhoni to skip opener
Upcoming batsman K L Rahul and leg-spinner Karn Sharma named in India's 19-member Test squad for the tour of Australia, where captain MS Dhoni will skip the opening match owing to an injury
With the World Cup less than 100 days away, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) wants skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to be in the best physical condition to defend the title.
Dhoni, who had opted out for the first three ODIs against Sri Lanka, was yesterday given extended rest to nurse his right thumb injury which he sustained during the fourth ODI against the West Indies at Dharamsala.
Dhoni, who attended yesterday's selection committee meeting along with stand-in skipper Virat Kohli and coach Duncan Fletcher at a five-star hotel in Andheri, will miss the remaining two ODIs against Sri Lanka and the first Test against Australia starting December 4.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said the injury is not serious. "He (Dhoni) is on the right track. It has been decided to rest him for one more Test, so that everything is fine. It was suggested by his doctors and only after that, this decision was taken," Patel told reporters after the two-hour meeting.
It's 18, not 19
Patel also clarified that it is an 18-member squad and not 19. "For the first Test, Naman Ojha will replace MS Dhoni. As soon as the first Test is over and Dhoni joins the team, Ojha will return home," said Patel.
Sandeep Patil & Co rewarded KL Rahul and leg-spinner Karn Sharma with a place in the squad for Australia tour. Rahul, who was the second highest run-getter in the 2013-14 first-class season with 1158 runs, will be the third opener. Rahul also impressed with twin tons in the Duleep Trophy final for South Zone vs Central Zone at New Delhi recently.
Karn's four wickets in the warm-up match against Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium on October 30 may have played a major role in the 27-year-old getting a nod in the Test team and the two ODIs against Sri Lanka. The pace department will consist of five bowlers — Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron.
Team for Australia Tests: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Naman Ojha, R Ashwin, Karn Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.
Team for last 2 ODIs against Sri Lanka: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Axar Patel, Karn Sharma, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Vinay Kumar, Kedar Jadhav.