Former Indian opening batsman Aakash Chopra has picked a 30-member squad for India ahead of the tour of Australia later this year. Aakash Chopra named the men for the touring party for Tests and limited-overs combined in his latest Youtube video. Unlike the previous time, the Indian team will face a rejuvenated Australian side consisting of the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne along with the pace quartet.
To start with, Aakash Chopra picked four openers in Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, and Prithvi Shaw. As far as Mayank Agarwal is concerned, Aakash believes that he could be retained for white-ball fixtures if his Test series pans out well.
“Rohit Sharma no doubt, he has to be there. He is number 1 on that list. KL Rahul is right behind him and he is always an opener in my team, so I will pick him as an opener only,”
“You can also consider Mayank Agarwal for all the three formats. You can continue with him if the Test series is good. It is necessary to keep Prithvi Shaw also in the team, the way he is playing. You can also keep him till the end although you could also send couple of them back after the Test series,”
There were no surprises for the number three spot in Tests as he named Cheteshwar Pujara. With 523 runs the previous time India visited down under, Pujara would be looked upon to play a similar role against a formidable Australian side. The 42-year old added that the Saurashtra-born player has a great reputation, following his outstanding run of form the previous time.
“Firstly you will take Cheteshwar Pujara. Last time he had played well and India had won. If we want to do well again, he has to perform again. What a reputation he has in Australia, people there are scared of him,”
The next choices were Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli, who bats at number four and five respectively. The skipper has an excellent record in Australia while Rahane is more of a crisis man for India.
“The next guy is Ajinkya Rahane whom you will have 100% in the Test matches. You might send him back after the Tests. Virat Kohli, there is no doubt,”
Aakash Chopra went on to pick Shreyas Iyer for Tests, given his stellar display at number four for India in limited-overs cricket. Shreyas Iyer’s first-class average of 52 has provoked the commentator to question his exclusion from Test cricket.
“So will be Shreyas Iyer, I am actually seeing him as an option for Tests as well. If there is any problem in the batting, then why not Shreyas Iyer. Why you won’t consider him for Test cricket when he has done well in first-class cricket,”
“I will also like to keep Shubman Gill for all three formats” : Aakash Chopra
Aakash further opted for Hanuma Vihari not only in Tests but also in the limited-overs format. He also named Shubman Gill, who has made rapid strides in the domestic circuit and has a knack of comfortably picking gaps.
“Next is Hanuma Vihari, why do you see him only as a Test cricketer. With his batting style, you can also consider him for all formats. I will also like to keep Shubman Gill for all three formats. He is a good player and can really come to the fore,”
Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant headlined Aakash Chopra’s wicketkeeping options. The last time India visited Australia to play Tests, Pant created a record for most catches and notched up a century too. Furthermore, KL Rahul will serve as the choice for gloveman in white-ball cricket.
“Saha for Test no doubt and Pant last time was extraordinary when India had gone there. He created a record for most catches and also smashed a century. In white-ball cricket, we will have KL Rahul as well as the wicketkeeping option,”
“You may want to send Ashwin back after the Tests but you can keep him as well if you want” : Aakash Chopra
The Uttar Pradesh-born former cricketer surprisingly picked four spinners to play in Australia namely Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Yuzvendra Chahal. While Chahal is yet to play more first-class cricket, Aakash Chopra feels he could be considered for Tests.
“Kuldeep had taken 6 wickets in the last Test match he had played there. Ashwin and Jadeja are certainties anyway. You may want to send Ashwin back after the Tests but you can keep him as well if you want. Yuzvendra Chahal can be considered for Test matches is what I feel,”
As for the fast bowling department, Aakash Chopra named the obvious choices in Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, and Navdeep Saini. The 42-year old wants Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar, given the day-night Test in Adelaide.
“Bumrah, Ishant, Umesh and Shami are the usual suspects. Navdeep Saini would be my fifth bowler. I would like to keep Bhuvi and Deepak Chahar with my team throughout. You can consider them with the red ball as well, don’t forget one Test match will be played with the pink ball as well,”
The final choice for a seamer was Hardik Pandya, who he wants to be selected only if fit enough for bowling. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Shardul Thakur, Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar made it to the list as white-ball players.
“Hardik Pandya, you want him to be fit and part of the Test team. If he will play or not is to be looked later depending on whether he is able to sustain his bowling but you will want to keep him as an option,”
Aakash Chopra’s 30-member squad: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Shardul Thakur, Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar