KL Rahul gets a spot in Afghanistan Test, Ajinkya Rahane to lead
KL Rahul was left out of the first Test in South Africa while for an ODI series in Sri Lanka, he was the No. 4 batsman, given one or two chances and then cast aside.
KL Rahul during his innings of 85 in the third Test v Sri Lanka at Kandy last August. Pic/Getty Images
KL Rahul, the man who scored six half-centuries from seven innings during the four-Test series between India and Australia at home last year, has also got a T20I ton besides averaging 35 from 10 ODIs. But for all that, he was left out of the first Test in South Africa while for an ODI series in Sri Lanka, he was the No. 4 batsman, given one or two chances and then cast aside.
It's only in T20s that he has been persisted with, the strike rate of 146, perhaps doing the trick. Yesterday, though, life came a full circle as the Karnataka opener and sometimes middle order batsman as also an occasional wicketkeeper, found himself part of all three formats when the Indian selectors named as many as five squads, including three national teams.
But even as Rahul found favour from MSK Prasad & Co, who met here yesterday to pick the Indian squads for the lone Test against Afghanistan, the T20 series in Ireland and England and an ODI series in England (besides picking two India 'A' sides), Rohit Sharma, controversially named part of the new 'A+' category of contracted Indian players, finds himself out of the Test squad to take on Afghanistan here in Bangalore next month.
The 'A+' category was created for those who are regulars in all three formats but Rohit, easily one of India's more talented limited overs batsmen, has featured in only 25 Tests since his debut five years ago in 2013 and yet got the nod for the top category.With Prasad, the chairman of the selection committee stating, "Except Virat, all Test specialists are playing this match," it was clear that Rohit has been dropped and not rested.
Rahane to lead
Ironically, Ajinkya Rahane, the man Rohit played ahead of in the first two Tests in South Africa, will captain the Test squad in the absence of Kohli, who will be away playing county cricket for Surrey in England as preparation for India's tour of England.
Kohli, who was teleconferencing during the selection meeting, though will lead the T20 and ODI squads that also have Ambati Rayudu, in terrific form this IPL season, as one of the common picks.
Missing again are senior spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja even as Washington Sundar, in and out of Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore team, pipped Mumbai Indians' Krunal Pandya for the third spinner's slot in both the ODI and T20 squads.
India's Test side for Afghanistan test
Ajinkya Rahane (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma and Shardul Thakur.
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