No Shami, Mishra as India unchanged for first two Australia Tests

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No Shami, Mishra as India unchanged for first two Australia Tests

Posted on : Tuesday 14th of February 2017

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The MSK Prasad-led selection panel of the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday (February 14) announced an unchanged 16-member squad for India's first two Tests of the four-match series against Australia, starting on February 23. Fast bowler Mohammed Shami and leggie Amit Mishra were not considered for selection owing to injuries.

The injury and fitness status of Shami remains unclear. The fast bowler last played any form of competitive cricket in November 2016, in the Mohali Test against England. Even if he had regained full fitness, Shami couldn't have made the squad as per the guidelines set by the recently-appointed coach Anil Kumble, who wants any player vying to make a national comeback to prove form and fitness at the domestic level. Shami wasn't part of the East Zone squad in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.

India will go into the series brimming with confidence, having beaten Bangladesh by 208 runs in the one-off Test to follow up on their 2-0 series win ine West Indies, 3-0 win against New Zealand and 4-0 against England. The four-match series against Australia will be the last of their long 13-Test home season and they would look to finish off on a high.

The team has plenty of options and variety in the spin department. Off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm tweaker Ravindra Jadeja will be the first-choice picks, but offie Jayant Yadav and Chinaman bowler Kuldeep are handy enough if Kohli is tempted to throw in a third spinner to rattle the visitors.

In the pace department, India have Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya. While Yadav has been a regular in the Test set-up, Kohli has been impressed by Bhuvneshwar's improved pace and fitness levels, which has made him a potent bowler even with the old ball.

While the middle order is packed with Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair in form, the openers haven't been scoring quite consistently. While KL Rahul has failed to get off to good starts, Abhinav Mukund has been retained in the reserves on the basis of a spectacular run in the domestic season.

The first Test is set to be played in Pune, starting on February 23, followed by the second Test in Bangalore from March 4.

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