KL Rahul has been left out of India’s squad for the Test series against South Africa named on Thursday while Shubman Gill gets his first call up in the longest format.

Rahul’s omission confirms that the selectors are indeed going with Rohit Sharma as the first choice partner for Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order, as MSK Prasad had hinted earlier. The Mumbaikar has been named as the captain of the Board President’s XI side for the warm-up match.

Gill, meanwhile, has been in prolific form for India A and recently led the side against South Africa A.

The three-match Test series, for the Freedom Trophy, starts on 2 October in Vizag. The second Test is in Ranchi (10 October) while the final match is in Pune (19 October). This will be India’s second assignment in the World Test Championships while South Africa begin their campaign with this series. Virat Kohli and Co currently sit atop the table with 120 points.

Rohit’s last Test appearance for India was in the away series against Australia in 2018 and he will be expected to open in Vizag, with the in-form Gill the other option.

Rahul has scored 664 runs in his last 30 Test innings, with his only notable score – 149 against England at the Oval last year – coming in a dead rubber. He threw away starts in the recently concluded two-match Test series in West Indies.

Rahul’s form a cause for concern, will consider Rohit as opener in Tests: MSK Prasad

Hardik Pandya, who missed out the entire West Indies tour but recently was named in the T20I squad, remains absent from the longest format while Wriddhiman Saha retains his spot as the second wicket-keeper.

The bowling lineup remains the same from the West Indies series. Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin continue to be the three spinners, while Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma will be the three pacers. Umesh Yadav has been left out of the squad after being a part of the team in the Caribbean.

Test series schedule

Date Freedom Trophy - INDvSA Venue
October 2-6 1st Test Vizag
October 10-14 2nd Test Ranchi
October 19-23 3rd  Test Pune

India’s squad for the Test series against South Africa:

Virat Kohli (C), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill

Board President’s XI for warm-up game:

Rohit Sharma (c), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wk), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav