Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav will join the India Test squad in England for the five-match Pataudi Trophy. Shaw and Yadav, who are currently playing the T20I series in Sri Lanka, were chosen by the selectors after the Indian team management sought replacements for the injured trio of Shubman Gill, Avesh Khan and Washington Sundar.
It could not be confirmed when Shaw and Yadav will link up with the squad in England - a BCCI statement on Monday didn't provide details either - or if they would be available for the final two matches of the T20I series in Sri Lanka which ends on July 29.
While Gill and Sundar were part of the 20-member India squad announced in May for the World Test Championship final and the England series, Khan was part of the four standbys. All three players have sustained injuries serious enough to be ruled out of the five-Test series starting on August 4.
Gill has already returned to India after being troubled by shin splints in his left leg post the WTC final in June.
Khan fractured his left thumb on the first day of the warm-up game that the Indians played this week against a County Select XI, who he represented, in Durham. "A specialist was consulted for further management of his injury," the BCCI said in a statement.
Sundar, who along with Khan had played for the local side but did not bowl, picked up a finger injury. The BCCI said that Sundar has since "had an injection on his right-hand bowling finger", but he remains out of contention for the Test series.
The BCCI also confirmed that opening batter Abhimanyu Easwaran, who was originally part of the group of reserve players accompanying the squad - which also includes fast bowlers Prasidh Krishna and Arzan Nagwaswalla - has been added to the main squad.
While Shaw will be a back-up opener along with Mayank Agarwal and Easwaran, Yadav's inclusion possibly signals the team management's concern over the fitness of senior batter Ajinkya Rahane. The Indian vice-captain did not play in the warm-up match because of a swollen left hamstring, although the BCCI said that he could recover in time for the first Test which begins in ten days' time.
Shaw returns to the Test fold after being dropped for the home series against England earlier this year. His last Test was the pink-ball match in Adelaide last December, where India suffered a heavy defeat. He made 0 and 4 with greats like Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting dissecting his technique and revealing a few faults. In a chat with the Indian Express in March, Shaw admitted he felt "worthless" and "broke down" after being dropped for the three remaining Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
It is understood that both the team management and the selectors wanted Shaw to continue working on his game especially against the swinging delivery, which was one key factor in his not being named originally for the England tour. Shaw was one of the best batters in the first half of the 2021 IPL where he gave the Delhi Capitals flying starts. Before the IPL, he had a great outing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he made 827 runs in eight innings as he led Mumbai to the title.
Shaw had a forgettable T20I debut on Sunday against Sri Lanka with a first-ball duck, and although he has only played five Tests in his career so far, his List A numbers since the Australian tour have been phenomenal: 1240 runs in 20 innings at an average of 72.94 and a strike rate of 142.85 including four centuries and as many fifties.
Yadav, whose international career took off following the 2020 IPL, has grown from a dark horse to a near certainty to grab a slot in India's T20 World Cup squad. In March this year, Yadav, who is 30 years old, made his T20I debut in the home series against England and his ODI debut in the Sri Lanka series this month. Since the 2020 IPL, Yadav, who bats in the middle order, has made 1323 runs in 38 innings, striking at 146.51 with an average of 38.91 along with one century and 10 fifties. In the ongoing limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka, he was named Player of the Series in the ODIs and followed it up with a cracking half-century in the first T20I on Sunday.
Did the selectors then solely pick Yadav on his white-ball form? Possibly, but in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy, playing for Mumbai, Yadav made 508 runs in ten innings at an average of 56.44 with two hundreds and two fifties. Of the 77 first-class matches he has played, 71 have been in the Ranji format. He played for India A just once, in 2011-12 - the only season where he averaged over 50 with 68.54.
Yadav could end up spending the England tour batting in the nets considering the pair of Hanuma Vihari and KL Rahul are ahead of him in the pecking order. It is understood that the team management has been looking at Rahul as a middle-order batter. He even scored a century in the first innings of the practice game walking in at No. 5 in the absence of Virat Kohli, Rahane and Rishabh Pant.
Stats inputs by Sampath Bandarupalli