White-ball skipper Rohit Sharma was on Saturday officially named captain of the Indian Test team for the upcoming two-match series against Sri Lanka, starting on March 4.

Senior batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, senior wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, and experienced pacer Ishant Sharma were left out of the Tests as the All India senior selection committee named squads for the Sri Lanka series.

Read more: India’s Test and T20I squads for Sri Lanka series

Sri Lanka’s tour will begin with a three-match T20 series starting February 24 and will be followed by the two Test matches from March 4.

Rookie Uttar Pradesh left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar was the only new face in the 18-member squad.

Ahead of the T20 series, the selection committee, headed by Chetan Sharma, decided to give Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant a break, while Shardul Thakur was rested for the entire Sri Lanka series.

Meanwhile, Washington Sundar and KL Rahul were ruled out of the entire series.

Ashwin Ravichandran Ashwin will be available subject to his fitness, while Axar Patel is still recovering and is expected to be fit for the second Test.

“The selection committee deliberated a lot on Rahane and Pujara. We told them we will not consider them against Sri Lanka but doors are open for them. We told them to go and play Ranji Trophy,” selection committee chairman Chetan Sharma told reporters during a virtual press conference.

“They have served the country for so long. They can come back, why not? It’s like a graph. .. Rahane hit a hundred yesterday. this is a process of managing…Who wouldn’t be happy if they come back?”

Talking about Rohit’s appointment as Test captain, Chetan said: “We want to groom future captains under Rohit. He is the No 1 cricketer of our country. Today’s professional cricketers manage their body and Rohit has no problem at all and he is absolutely okay.

“And if such a big and experienced cricketer comes forward and becomes captain then the future captains to be groomed under Rohit would be a tremendous thing for us.”

Chetan even spoke at length about Hardik Pandya, who is not playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy and will captain the Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League.

Here’s what Chetan had to say on Pandya:

“If somebody does not want to play, the selection committee does not interfere in the state matters. You can ask Hardik why he is not playing Ranji Trophy. We are seeing those who are playing Ranji Trophy and those who are performing. We are happy to see players playing Ranji Trophy and performing.

“Look, definitely Hardik was a very important part of the Indian team. (But) after the injuries, we will now say that if he is 100% fit, ready to go and also if he is bowling and match fitness and all, we we will consider him immediately.

“Look, the most important thing is, like I said before, you can speak to him (Hardik), you would be having his (mobile) number. Number two, you are not a member of the selection committee to tell that whether he will be selected or not. The five selection committee members are there with me. Who gets selected and who does not, that we will decide, not you. But what he has to do, who will play what, let things come, you support a kid, don’t go behind him.

“What Hardik has done for the country is not a thing which can be forgotten in a minute, support him.”

On Saha not being included, Chetan said, “I can’t tell you on what grounds he has been dropped. That’s for selectors. All I can tell you is that he was told before and asked to play the Ranji trophy, which is the ladder for the Indian team.

“Why he did not play Ranji, the state association CAB cab tell you that. That is not my jurisdiction. As selectors, we wanted them to play. We are not looking at age. When there are youngsters sitting outside, we thought we shall give chance. For these two test matches. But it’s important to play Ranji. Else, how will we know if you are match-ready?”

Left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav was recalled to the Test squad after making his way into the white-ball team.

“Kuldeep adds variation to the squad and his bowling is difficult to read,” Chetan said. “He had a slump in form and was out of the squad. But he bowled in the recent one-dayer and we believe given enough chances, he’d be an asset for the team.”

Inputs from PTI