The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced that opener Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of the Test series against South Africa due to a left hamstring injury picked during a training session on Sunday. In vice-captain Sharma's place, Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal has been named as the replacement in the Test squad.
"Team India Test vice-captain Rohit Sharma sustained a left hamstring injury during his training session here in Mumbai yesterday. He has been ruled out of the upcoming 3-match Test series against South Africa. Priyank Panchal will replace Rohit Sharma in the Test squad," said a release by BCCI.
Sharma had recently replaced fellow Mumbaikar Ajinkya Rahane as the vice-captain of the Test side apart from being promoted as India's white-ball captain. His absence is a big blow to India's plans of winning a Test series in South Africa for the first time. Sharma had scored 906 runs in 21 innings at an average of 47.68 and was India's highest run-getter in Test cricket in 2021.
He was also the second-highest run-getter in Test cricket this year after England captain Joe Root. In India's last Test against England at The Oval in September, Sharma was the 'Player of the Match' for his wonderful knock of 127 off 256 balls in India's 157-run win. Panchal was the captain of the India A team's three-four day matches tour to South Africa, where he captained in two matches, registering scores of 96, 24, and 0 in his three innings.
Panchal had been a part of India's extended squad that played against England in four Tests at home in February and March. The 31-year-old, who captains Gujarat in domestic cricket, was in the squad as a reserve opener alongside Abhimanyu Easwaran for the home Tests against England, which India won 3-1. In 100 FC matches, Panchal has scored 7011 runs at a healthy average of 45.52, including 24 centuries and 25 half-centuries with an unbeaten 314 as his highest score.
The three-match Test series between India and South Africa begins from December 26 to 30 at SuperSport Park in Centurion, followed by the second Test at Wanderers in Johannesburg from January 3 to 7 and the third Test at Newlands in Cape Town from January 11 to 15.
India's Test squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj