WTC Final: Australia take 173-run lead after bowling out India for 296 despite Rahane, Thakur fifties
Senior batter Ajinkya Rahane was on Tuesday recalled in India's 15-member squad for the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia, scheduled to be played at The Oval from June 7 to 11.
The 34-year-old batter has been out of the India team since the Cape Town Test against South Africa last year, after an extended run of low scores, but injuries to key personnel and his own spectacular form in the ongoing IPL 2023 has helped him make a comeback.
Playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2023, Rahane has scored 209 runs in five matches so far, at an average of 52.25 and a strike-rate of 199.04. The right-hander batter also had a decent season for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy 2022-23 campaign, scoring 634 runs at 57.63 including two centuries.
Back in the India squad, Rahane could be a leading contender to take up the No.5 slot vacated by the injury-enforced absence of Shreyas Iyer. KL Rahul, who was left out of the final two Tests against Australia and lost his vice-captaincy along the way, is an alternate choice if India decide to rejig their order.
In absence of injured Shreyas Iyer, Rahane could be a leading contender to bat at No. 5 in the Indian batting line up. KL Rahul, who was dropped for the final two Tests against Australia and lost his vice-captaincy along the way, is another option for that slot.
Meanwhile, Suryakumar Yadav, who was named in the squad for the Border-Gavaskar series, misses out. On the other hand, KS Bharat is the team's main specialist wicket-keeping option. With no place for Ishan Kishan, Rahul automatically becomes the reserve keeper-batter option.
With the final set to be played in the early England summer, the selectors have also decided to swap out the fourth spinner in their squad -- Kuldeep Yadav -- for a seam-bowling all-rounder in the form of Shardul Thakur, who incidentally scored two half-centuries in India's win against England at this venue in 2021.
There were no other major surprises in India's selections as Rohit Sharma will continue leading the team that has named six specialist batters in the squad, including Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.
Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat are the four frontline fast bowlers while Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel give the spin-bowling all-rounders option.
India's Test squad WTC final:
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, K L Rahul, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat.