Rookie seamer Khaleel gets maiden call-up
The national selection committee on Saturday decided to rest India skipper Virat Kohli while handing over captaincy to Rohit Sharma for the Asia Cup, taking place barely four days after a gruelling tour of England.
While the fifth and final Test against England is scheduled to be held from September 7-11, the Asia Cup is starting in the UAE from September 15.
The 16-member squad will be led by Kohli's deputy Rohit, with Rajasthan left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed getting his maiden senior team call-up.
While India could face Pakistan thrice (if both teams are in final) in the tournament, the selectors are looking at the bigger picture -- four Tests against Australia at the end of the year where Kohli would want to be in his prime.
The notable exclusions from the squad that played the last series against England include veteran Suresh Raina, middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer, seamer Siddarth Kaul and fast bowler Umesh Yadav.
Raina and Iyer have been replaced by Ambati Rayudu, who has now cleared the YoYo Test and all-rounder Kedar Jadhav, who has completely recovered from his hamstring surgery.
In the case of Kohli, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said that the skipper's workload management is paramount as he had issues with back injury in the earlier Tests in England this summer.
"Considering the workload, we have given him (Kohli) rest. He has been playing continuously for quite some time. He's on the road from the IPL. So that is why looking at the workload we have given him rest," Prasad said at a media conference.
The chairman said that all key players would be given rest and their workload closely monitored.
"I have been there from the third Test match (in England). We sat for a discussion regarding the workload management, so we need to preserve some of the precious players, who are playing in all three formats.
"Looking at that workload issue we have started with Virat and he will be rested for the Asia Cup," he added.
Khaleel, a 20-year-old from Rajasthan's Tonk has played 17 List A matches, taking 28 wickets at an economy rate of 4.74.
He is nippy with an ability to hustle the batsmen and Rahul Dravid has been mentoring him since the 2016 U-19 World Cup. He was with India A during the tour of England recently.
The selectors are desperate for some variety and after experiments with Jaydev Unadkat and Barinder Sran didn't yield the desired results, they are now trying out Khaleel.
"Yes there are 2-3 slots that we are yet to finalise. One is a left handed seamer's slot where we are looking at Khaleel.
"So for those spots we will be trying and we will look at these 24 matchens. As we move closer towards World Cup, you guys will come to know."
One of the heartbreaks could be opener Mayank Agarwal, who has scored more runs across formats than anybody in Indian domestic cricket and A team matches.
However, Prasad assured that his chance will come sooner than later.
"Mayank Agarwal has been fantastic and has been consistent in the last 10-12 months. He is just a step away and I am sure in due course of time he will get his recognition," he said.
"And he did well In all three formats in whatever opportunities he has got in domestic cricket. We will definitely look at it when we rest some of the senior players," Prasad assured.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur and Khaleel Ahmed.