Ajinkya Rahane to lead India in one-off Afghanistan Test in Virat Kohli’s absence

Bengaluru: With Virat Kohli opting to play County cricket to prepare for the England tour, Ajinkya Rahane was named India’s skipper for one off Test against Afghanistan as the Indian selectors announced squad here on Tuesday.

While Karun Nair made a comeback to the Indian squad, R Ashwin managed to retain his place in the 15-man squad for the Bengaluru Test, which will commence on June 14.

India squad for lone Afghanistan Test: Ajinkya (Captain), Shikhar, Vijay, KL Rahul, Pujara, Karun Nair, Saha (wk), Ashwin, Jadeja, Kuldeep, Umesh, Shami, Hardik, Ishant, Shardul

There were no surprises in India's squad for the Ireland T20Is before the England tour officially starts. Siddarth Kaul, who has impressed for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has also been named in the squad. 

The side for the three T20Is and as many ODIs against England were also announced. While Manish Pandey made the cut for the shortest format, he was given the red light for the 50-over format of the game.

The committee will also pick India A team for One-day Tri-series against England Lions and West Indies A and two four-day games against West Indies A and one four-day match against England Lions.

Regular skipper Virat Kohli is unavailable for the one-off Test against Afghanistan as he will be busy playing county cricket for Surrey. Indian pacer Ishant Sharma is also set to miss the historic Test due to his county commitments.

The decision to announce the squad in advance is to ascertain who all are available for the Afghanistan Test.

While Kohli will be going to England after the IPL finishes, a recent report in TOI suggest that the skipper has shown strong inclination towards getting Chahal into his scheme things for Test matches. It is also learnt that Chahal could be giving Ashwin a run for his money for a spot in the Test XI.

Team India's Test specialist Chesteshwar Pujara, will comeback from UK for the Test against Afghanistan and then return back after playing the match as his county side Yorkshire doesn't have any game during that period.

Also, procuring UK visa is another issue for a few players, which has prompted the board to ask the selectors to quickly announce the squad.

COA Vinod Rai has already said that in order to ensure a good performance in England, at least six to seven Test specialist will be in England in June with the India A side to acclimatise with the conditions.

According to the BCCI official, the Indian A team will have seven regular players from the senior side, including Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya among others. They will be leaving for UK soon after the match against Afghanistan.

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