The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced a 16-member squad on Friday for the two Test matches against New Zealand at home. While some of the multi-format players who have been with the side for the last so many months has been handed a rest, in a surprising exclusion, Hanuma Vihari's name was not included in the squad. Vihari has been a regular member of the Test team and has done well whenever he has got an opportunity to wear the Indian whites.
What is more surprising is the fact that while one would have expected Vihari to play a key role in the New Zealand series in the absence of senior players like Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami as well as a new Test regular in Rishabh Pant, instead of Vihari, players like Shreyas Iyer and Jayant Yadav have been named in the Indian Test team.
Has Vihari been dropped?
Ajinkya Rahane has been named as the captain of the side while it has also been conveyed that Virat will be back for the second Test and will be back as the captain for the Mumbai Test. While Vihari's last innings for India was in Sydney when he managed to save the Test for India along with R Ashwin despite both battling serious injuries, he has not got a game since then and is now not even named in the squad.
While some reports suggest that he has been dropped from the team, a new report carried by ESPNCricinfo claims that Viharu will be travelling to South Africa with the India A team. If that is indeed the case, he is likely to be a last-minute inclusion in that team since his name was not present in that squad announced along with India's T20I contingent for New Zealand series.
However, not everyone seems to be pleased with the decision. Commentator Harsha Bhogle also expressed his surprise at his omission.
"Am I missing something here? I cannot see a reason why #HanumaVihari is not in the test squad for #IndvsNZ. Injury? Can't be on cricketing grounds....there hasn't been any first-class cricket. Surely it can't be right. His last innings for India was that heroic effort at Sydney," he tweeted.
Here is Harsha's tweet: