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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Rishabh Pant in India squad for England cricket Tests as Wriddhiman Saha ruled out

  • Injured Saha misses out from squad for first three Tests
  • BCCI to make call on injured seamer Bhuvneshwar
  • Kuldeep picked along with Ashwin and Jadeja
Rishabh Pant is being touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Tony Marshall / Getty Images

Rishabh Pant has been included as the second wicketkeeper in an 18-man India squad for the first three Tests of the five-match series against England after regular starter Wriddhiman Saha failed to recover from a left thumb injury.

Saha picked up the problem playing in the domestic Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament, an injury that also ruled him out of a one-off Test against Afghanistan last month.

Pant, 20, who has played four T20 internationals for India, is renowned for his swashbuckling batting and will be the second-choice keeper behind Dinesh Karthik in the squad named on Wednesday.

The Virat Kohli-led side will also be without Jasprit Bumrah for the opening Test at Edgbaston from August 1 after the paceman injured his thumb in a T20 match against Ireland last month.

"Jasprit Bumrah, who has been included in the squad, will be available for selection from the second Test onwards based on his fitness," the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a statement.

Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower-back condition in the third one-day international against England at Headingley on Tuesday and was missing from the squad.

"His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in The test squad will be made soon," the statement added.

The India selectors met in Leeds to pick the squad, which also contains three spin bowlers.

Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav was included alongside frontline slow bowlers Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja after a strong showing in the limited-overs matches against England, a series the hosts won 2-1.

The 23-year-old bowler took five wickets in the opening Twenty20 international and then returned superb figures of 6-25 - the best by any spinner against England in a one-day international - in an eight-wicket win in the opening ODI at Trent Bridge last week.

Kuldeep has made just two career Test appearances to date, the last against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in August 2017.

India have tended to deploy the experienced pair of off-spinner Ashwin and left-arm orthodox Jadeja as their specialist slow bowlers in recent Test matches.

But Kuldeep, speaking after his ODI haul at Trent Bridge - the venue for the third Test - said: "Talking about Test cricket, I am hoping for the call and let's see what happens in a couple of days when they announce the Test team."

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There was no place for Rohit Sharma, who scored two hundreds against England in the limited-overs matches, however, with the selectors preferring Karnataka batsman Karun Nair over him for a middle-order spot.

Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul were the three opening batsmen in the squad, though the latter came in at No 3 against Afghanistan, pushing Cheteshwar Pujara down a spot in the absence of a rested Kohli.

India have a four-day warm-up match against Essex at Chelmsford next week before facing England in the first Test.

India Test squad

Kohli (c), Dhawan, Rahul, Vijay, Pujara, Rahane (vc), Karun, Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ashwin, Jadeja, Kuldeep, Pandya, Ishant, Shami, Umesh, Bumrah, Thakur

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