India pick uncapped Gill, axe Rahul for S. Africa Test

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India's Rohit Sharma gestures as he walks off after losing his wicket during the ICC Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh at Edgbaston, Birmingham, Britain on July 2, 2019. — Reuters

NEW DELHI —Uncapped opener Shubman Gill was named on Thursday in the Indian Test squad to face South Africa as the selectors axed out of form KL Rahul.

The 20-year-old has been rewarded for his prolific run-scoring in the India A team during the tour of the West Indies, where he became the youngest Indian to score a first-class double hundred.

He may have to bide his time for a Test debut, though, as the omission of Rahul, who managed just 101 run in his four Test innings in the recently concluded West Indies tour, paves the way for Rohit Sharma to step up to open in the XI.

Chief selector MSK Prasad said he "wanted to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests".

Sharma, who is the team's limited-overs vice-captain, has not been a Test regular and last played a five-day game in Australia last year. He has played 27 Tests in contrast to his 218 one-day appearances.

New batting hero Hanuma Vihari unsurprisingly remains part of the 15-man squad, led by Virat Kohli for the series starting Oct. 2 in Visakhapatnam.

Vihari, a middle-order batsman, scored a sparkling century and two fifties to top-score with 289 runs in the West Indies as India swept the two-match series.

The national selectors have once again chosen two wicketkeepers for the series with rising star Rishabh Pant having competition from Wriddhiman Saha.

Paceman Umesh Yadav has also been left out of the team.

The three-Test series follows three T20 internationals which start in Dharamsala on Sunday.

India's squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill. — AFP


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