India pick Gill‚ Bumrah‚ Ashwin in to face SA

Kolkata Knight Riders cricketer Shubman Gill could make his Test debut for India against South Africa.
Kolkata Knight Riders cricketer Shubman Gill could make his Test debut for India against South Africa.

Uncapped Shubman Gill has gone to the top of South Africa’s homework pile for their men’s Test series in India next month.

Opening batter Gill was named in the squad on Thursday as a replacement for KL Rahul — who has gone 11 completed innings without reaching 50.

Gill‚ 20‚ probably cracked the nod by scoring 90 for India A in the first innings of a four-day match against South Africa A in Thiruvananthapuram this week.

He was bowled by Dane Piedt having faced 153 balls‚ but he was there for only eight deliveries in the second dig before being bowled by Lungi Ngidi.

That should help South Africa’s cause‚ what with Piedt and Ngidi both in their Test squad.

The visitors will also have access to a fair amount of first-hand intelligence on Gill thanks to the 27 Indian Premier League games he has played.

Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn have dismissed him at that level‚ and he has been involved in matches that have also featured Faf du Plessis‚ Quinton de Kock‚ Kagiso Rabada‚ Chris Morris‚ Heinrich Klaasen‚ JP Duminy and Ngidi.

The South Africans will also have noted that Jasprit Bumrah has been selected.

That’s no surprise considering he took 13 wickets in two Tests in West Indies last month‚ a performance that included hauls of 6/27 and 5/7.

But Bumrah has played all of his 12 Tests on the road‚ and how he goes in his first home series will be the subject of intense focus.

He has taken 62 wickets in those matches‚ claiming five five-wicket hauls along the way‚ and is third in the rankings behind Pat Cummins and Rabada.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin‚ who took 31 wickets at an average of 11.12 in South Africa’s last series in India‚ in November 2015 — when the home side won 3-0 — is also among the 15.

The first of the three Tests will be played at Visakhapatnam from October 2.

A T20 series between the teams‚ also of three games‚ starts in Dharamshala on Sunday.

India Test squad:

Virat Kohli (captain)‚ Mayank Agarwal‚ Rohit Sharma‚ Cheteshwar Pujara‚ Ajinkya Rahane‚ Hanuma Vihari‚ Rishabh Pant‚ Wriddhiman Saha‚ Ravichandran Ashwin‚ Ravindra Jadeja‚ Kuldeep Yadav‚ Mohammed Shami‚ Jasprit Bumrah‚ Ishant Sharma‚ Shubman Gill.