Opener KL Rahul will be playing for India A in their first unofficial Test against England Lions to be held in Wayanad from February 7-10.
The 14-member squad, led by Maharashtra’s Ankit Bawne, also features Jharkhand fast bowler Varun Aaron, who last featured for India in 2015 in a rain-marred Test match against South Africa in Bengaluru.
Statistically – Aaron, with 25 wickets from seven Ranji Trophy matches – hasn’t had an exceptional season but as per Board of Control for Cricket in India officials in the selection committee, the once injury-prone speedster will be monitored with an eye on expanding the fast bowling pool.
That’s the reason that two tearaway quicks in veteran Aaron and young Avesh Khan have found berth along with Shardul Thakur, who is coming back from a long lay-off and current A team regular Navdeep Saini.
The team doesn’t have too many surprises as most of the domestic performers have found their place in the squad. All-rounder Jalaj Saxena, after another good season is now back in the A while Mumbai’s Siddhesh Lad has also been rewarded for his consistent show over the past few seasons.
Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, in one of his recent columns, had recently questioned Lad’s exclusion for various A team assignments. Openers Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Easwaran along with middle-order batsman Ricky Bhui and leg-spinner Mayank Markande have got the nod.
The squad doesn’t contain any top performers from either Saurashtra or Vidarbha as the Ranji Trophy final will draw to a close only on February 7.
Squad: Ankit Bawne (c), KL Rahul, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Priyank Panchal, Ricky Bhui, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wk), Jalaj Saxena, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mayank Markande, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Avesh Khan, Varun Aaron.