Ajinkya Rahane will lead the Indian Test team in the first Test match against world champions New Zealand while Virat Kohli joins up for the second game, the Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed on Friday.

Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, and Mohammed Shami are among the regulars not named in the squad for the two-match series against New Zealand that starts 25 November in Kanpur. The second Test starts on December 3 and will be played in Mumbai for which Kohli will be back to lead the side.

The series is part of the new cycle of the ICC World Test Championships and features the two sides that took part in the inaugural edition’s final earlier this year. India have already opened their account with the series in England while this will be defending champions New Zealand first assignment of the current edition.

Rohit, who has been named the T20I captain for the three-match series preceding the Tests, is among those presumably rested. Wriddhiman Saha and KS Bharat are named as the wicketkeepers in Pant’s absence while Cheteshwar Pujara has been named Rahane’s deputy.

Shreyas Iyer could be in for a Test debut as he earns a call-up to the side while the pace battery consists of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna.

India’s Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (Captain for 1st Test), Virat Kohli (To join squad for second Test and lead the team), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Md. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna

India vs New Zealand Test series

Date Match Venue
25th Nov 2021 1st Test Kanpur
3rd Dec 2021 2nd Test Mumbai

Another notable absence from the squad is Test specialist Hanuma Vihari, who was part of the touring party in England, but doesn’t find a place for the home Test season. According to ESPNCricinfo Vihari will be part of the touring India A squad to South Africa, even though he wasn’t named in the Priyank Panchal-led contingent recently. It could be in line with keeping Vihari as an overseas middle-order selection as India tour South Africa for their next international assignment. Vihari has played only one Test in India.

Allrounder Shardul Thakur, who impressed in England and was part of the T20 World Cup squad as well, is not named in the contingent for the series that marks Rahul Dravid’s first Test assignment as India coach.

Axar Patel, who had a storming Test series against England at home, retains his place alongside first-choice spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja while offspinner Jayant Yadav returns to the fray too.

New Zealand have already named their Test squad that has been loaded with spinners. Recently however Devon Conway was ruled out for the series after breaking his hand ahead of the T20 World Cup final.

Veteran Mitchell Santner will lead the slow-ball attack, supported by Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville, rookie Rachin Ravindra and part-timer Glenn Phillips.

Pace bowlers Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson have also been included, although Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme both chose to skip the tour.

Stead had said the Black Caps were fired up about defending their title.

“Touring India is one of the greatest experiences in cricket and I know our guys are really looking forward to the challenge,” he had said.

“It’s fair to say we’re expecting spin-friendly conditions and it’s great to have a range of options in this department.”

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway (ruled out since), Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Will Young, Neil Wagner.

With AFP inputs