NEW DELHI, Sept 12: Opener KL Rahul was on Thursday dropped from the Indian Test squad for the upcoming Test series against South Africa, propelling senior batsman Rohit Sharma to the opener�s role in red-ball cricket.
Rookie Punjab batsman Shubman Gill, as reported by PTI on Wednesday, has been rewarded with a place in the Test side as back-up floater, who can fit in both as an opener and a middle-order batsman.
�Yes, we are definitely looking at him (Rohit) and want to give him an opportunity up the order. He is keen (on opening) and the selection committee as well as everyone (team management) is keen. We want to see where he stands and then take a call,� said Chairman of Selectors MSK Prasad after the meeting of the panel.
�With regards to Shubman Gill, we look at him as an opener as well as middle-order batsman. We are looking at him as back-up for both the slots. As he keeps playing more and more, he will get his opportunities, because he is a player for all three formats,� he observed.
Another significant development was that Rishabh Pant, despite retaining his place in the squad, could lose his spot in the playing XI to a more accomplished Wriddhiman Saha.
India�s first Test against South Africa will start in Visakhapatnam on October 2, while the second and third games will be held in Pune (October 10-14) and Ranchi (October 19-23) respectively.
Umesh Yadav was dropped from the side as, in Indian conditions, one can�t have the luxury of four specialist pacers when only two will finally play.
Rohit will captain the Board President�s XI in a three-day warm-up match against the Proteas in Vizianagaram from September 26, where he will also test himself in the new role.
The 32-year-old�s stupendous success in white ball cricket has prompted the selectors to take a call on his batting position.
�He is opening in white-ball cricket for a decade now (for six years) and I am sure he has that ability to bat up the order. We have seen that in white ball cricket and if he can replicate that in red ball cricket, nothing like it,� Prasad said.
For Rahul, who has scored only one Test hundred in over 18 months, Prasad said that the Karnataka player got a fair run but a dip in form forced the panel to go for a change.
�We definitely communicated to KL. He is an exceptional talent and unfortunately his form has dipped in red ball cricket,� Prasad said.
Test Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill.
Board President�s XI: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (WK), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav. � PTI