Mahendra Singh Dhoni will miss the first Test in Brisbane due to a hand injury. Virat Kohli will fill in as captain. (Kohli to Lead India in First Test)
Virat Kohli will lead India in the first test against Australia in Brisbane next month in the absence of injured regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian cricket board said on Monday. (Rohit Makes Comback vs Sri Lanka in ODIs)
"M.S. Dhoni has been rested for the first test as a prophylactic measure to ensure optimum recovery," board secretary Sanjay Patel said in a statement, without elaborating on what the local media described as a right hand injury. Patel also clarified that the squad has 18 members. Naman Ojha has been included as a back-up to Saha for the first Test. "Ojha will come back once Dhoni joins the squad after the first Test."
"He will join the team from the second test onwards, and will lead the team for the rest of the test series," added Patel, announcing a 19-member squad for the four-match series starting in Brisbaneon Dec 4.
In Dhoni's absence, Wriddhiman Saha is expected to keep wicket in Brisbane, although Naman Ojha will also fancy his chances of being handed the role.
Karnataka opener K.L. Rahul was rewarded for his rich vein of form in domestic cricket by forcing his way into the squad but Shikhar Dhawan is likely to partner Murali Vijay at the top of the batting order.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will lead India's slow bowling department, while leg-spinner Karn Sharma was also included.
Umesh Yadav, who played the last of his nine tests against England in late 2012, returns to join Ishant Sharma in the pace attack, which also includes Varun Aaron and Mohammed Shami.
Left-handed batsman Suresh Raina, an automatic limited over choice, was also recalled in the side after a two-year absence.
India, reigning 50-over world champions, have slipped to sixth in test rankings and will take on a second-ranked Australia side still smarting from a 2-0 series defeat by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.
Brisbane hosts the first test, followed by matches in Adelaide (Dec. 12-16), Melbourne (Dec. 26-30) and Sydney (Jan. 3-7).
Team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, K.L. Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Naman Ojha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Karn Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron.