India recall Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay for Australia Tests

India tour of Australia 2018/19

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India have announced an 18-strong squad for their four Test series against Australia. Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay have been recalled. Wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel has also been included, while injury continues to keep Hardik Pandya sidelined.

Sharma is long-established as one of India’s premier white-ball batsman, but hasn’t managed to nail a spot in the Test side. He averages under 40 in the format and wasn’t included for India’s series against India and Windies, with Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Hanuma Vihari all included ahead of him.

Those three remain in contention for the Australia series, but Sharma’s ODI form made him too hard to ignore – he has scored two half-centuries and two centuries in his last six ODI innings.

Vijay meanwhile may have feared his Test career over. The 34-year-old, who also averages a tick under 40 in Test cricket, was dropped mid-way through the series against England, and with the precocious Prithvi Shaw, who averaged 134 in two Tests against the Windies, making a strong claim for his place.

However, after being excluded from the India side, Vijay regained form playing county cricket for Essex. He scored three half-centuries and a century in five innings for the English side after scoring just 26 runs in four Test innings, including a pair at Lord’s.Sharma and Vijay’s pedigree in Australia also played a role in their selections. Vijay averages over 60 in the country, with a century and four half-centuries from eight innings, including a memorable 99 in a big chase in Adelaide, while Sharma’s strength on the back foot made him an attractive candidate.

“Vijay went back and performed and considering the intensity of the series we have brought him,” said chairman of selectors MSK Prasad. “With regards to Rohit, he is a good back-foot player and his game is much suited in Australia.”

The other notable inclusion is that of Parthiv Patel, included in place of Dinesh Karthik. At the start of the England series, Karthik seemed established as India’s back-up keeper behind the injured Wriddhiman Saha.But after scoring 21 runs in four innings, including two ducks, he lost his place to the belligerent then-20-year-old Rishabh Pant, who struck a brilliant maiden hundred in the final game of that series, as he and KL Rahul threatened to complete a world-record chase.

A pair of 92s at home against Windies cemented his status as India’s No.2, if they didn’t make him the outright first choice. But Patel has managed to force his way past Karthik. He has played four Tests against Australia, though all came over a decade ago.

“Parthiv was not picked for Afghanistan Test and subsequent England series,” said Prasad. “He played the Duleep Trophy and whatever matches that happened, he batted well. It’s an intensive series (in Australia) and we have called him back.”Seam-bowling all-rounde Pandya remains unfit, meaning that all India’s all-round options are spinners – Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, and Ravichandran Ashwin.

Vihari is the most capable batsman of the three, boasting a first-class average of 59.06, while Ashwin has the most Test pedigree, with four Test hundreds and 336 wickets to his name. Jadeja is the man in form and in possession, having made a brilliant 86* against England in England before following up with his maiden Test century against Windies.

The series begins at Adelaide on 6 December.

Squad: Virat Kohli (C), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar