Strong Indian team for Windies tour
Uncapped Mumbai quick Shardul Thakur has been picked in the 17-member squad for the four-Test tour of the West Indies in July-August. The squad also includes fast bowler Mohammed Shami, who has not played international cricket since March 2015 due to injuries. Virat Kohli will captain the team, while Ajinkya Rahane has been named vice-captain.
Apart from batsman KL Rahul, none of the other players in the squad are part of the limited-overs tour to Zimbabwe immediately after the IPL in June. The series in West Indies is India’s first Test assignment since the home Tests against South Africa in October and November. India’s selectors made only two changes to that squad – fast bowler Varun Aaron and allrounder Gurkeerat Singh Mann were left out.
Thakur had two strong showings in successive Ranji Trophy seasons. In 2014-15, he finished as the joint highest wicket-taker, alongside R Vinay Kumar, with 48 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 20.81. He followed that with 41 wickets in the 2015-16 season, the highest for Mumbai, to help the side clinch its 41st Ranji Trophy title. Overall, Thakur has 133 wickets in 37 first-class matches at an average of 27.53. He was also part of the India A squad that played four-day matches at home against South Africa A and Australia A last year.
Shami has not played international cricket since the 2015 World Cup semi-final against Australia and he later revealed he had bowled through the tournament while battling pain from his knee injury. Despite that, he picked up 17 wickets in seven matches in the tournament. Following a surgery, Shami made a return to competitive cricket, playing two matches each in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Shami was picked for the ODI and T20I tour of Australia in January but was ruled out after suffering a Grade-2 hamstring injury. The injury also forced him to miss the Asia Cup T20. Shami retained his place in the World T20 squad but bowled only in the two warm-up matches, against West Indies and South Africa.
India have plenty of pace-bowling options for the tour of West Indies, with Ishant Sharma, Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Thakur in the squad, along with allrounder Stuart Binny. Their spin bowling line-up comprises R Ashwin, legspinner Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja.
Team: Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice captain), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Stuart Binny.