With World Test Championship points on the line, the Ajit Agarkar-led senior selection committee picked a full-strength squad for the longest format.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday confirmed that opener Mayank Agarwal has been added to the Test squad ahead of the rescheduled Edgbaston Test against England as a cover for captain Rohit Sharma, who tested positive for Covid-19.
“The All-India Senior Selection Committee has added Mayank Agarwal to India’s Test squad for the rescheduled fifth Test as cover for captain Rohit Sharma, who tested positive for Covid-19. Mayank has left for the UK and will link up with the squad in Birmingham,” said the BCCI in an official statement.
Earlier, on his Instagram story, Agarwal was seen in the flight with “Birmingham” typed above where he was seated, signalling that he had been called up to the Indian Test squad. According to the latest government rules on travel to the United Kingdom, Agarwal won’t be subjected to any quarantine period and may be available to play immediately if needed.
Agarwal, 31, had initially been left out of India’s squad for the Edgbaston Test named in May this year. But a right groin injury to K.L Rahul, which ruled him out of the home T20I series against South Africa in June and Sharma’s availability in doubt due to testing positive for Covid-19 means that Agarwal is now on his way to Birmingham to join the Test squad.
Agarwal, who made his Test debut against Australia on Boxing Day in 2018, has scored 1,488 runs at an average of 41.33 in 21 matches, including four centuries and six half-centuries. He was in the squad for the five-match Test series against England last year but was ruled out of the first Test at Trent Bridge due to a concussion. But with Rahul rediscovering his touch as a Test opener, Agarwal did not feature in the playing eleven for the whole tour.
Agarwal last played a Test match for India in March, during the two-match home series against Sri Lanka in Mohali and Bengaluru. He could manage to score just 59 runs at an average of 19.66. He then turned out for Punjab Kings in IPL 2022, where he was their captain.
But Agarwal had a season to forget with the bat, scoring just 196 runs in 12 innings at an average of 16.33 and a strike rate of 122.5 as Punjab finished sixth on the points table. He then appeared for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Uttar Pradesh, making 10 and 22 in a five-wicket defeat at Alur.
India are leading the Test series 2-1 against England, before a Covid-19 outbreak in the visitors’ camp saw the fifth and final Test in Manchester rescheduled to Edgbaston this year. After this, India will play three ODIs and as many T20Is, scheduled to happen from July 7 to 17.
India’s Test squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), KS Bharat (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna and Mayank Agarwal
(Inputs from IANS)