In-form Mumbai batsman Prithvi Shaw moved a step closer in his comeback trail back to the Indian team after he was named in the India A squad on Monday for the tour of New Zealand.
Shaw, who was handed an eight-month ban for consuming a banned substance, has been in sublime touch since returning from the suspension. The youngster made a spectacular double hundred in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy-opener against Baroda.
India do have a settled opening pair in Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agawal, but the 20-year-old Shaw could look at making the Test squad for the New Zealand series as a reserve opener.
After picking the India A squad for the tour of New Zealand, selection committee chairman MSK Prasad made it clear that they want Shaw to get as much “game time as possible”.
Shaw had made a memorable Test debut last year, scoring a hundred against the West Indies in Rajkot.
Hanuma Vihari will captain India in the first-class games in New Zealand and Shubman Gill in the 50-over format.
Test specialists like R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma will get much needed match time in New Zealand ahead of the two-Test series, beginning in Wellington on February 21. The second Test will be played in Christchurch from February 29.
“As we have set the system, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mayank Agarwal will play the second A game,” said Prasad.
Mayank Agarwal has been picked for both one-dayers as well the two four-day matches. All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has been recovering from his back surgery, has been named in the one-day squad and is expected to make a national comeback during the tour of New Zealand.
“(As for) Hardik, we will have a look at him in the third week of January,” Prasad added.
The Indian squads for the limited overs home series against Sri Lanka and Australia were also announced on Monday.
India A squad for two tour matches and three one-day games: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill (captain), Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Axar Patel, Rahul Chahar, Sandeep Warrier, Ishan Porel, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammad Siraj
India A squad for 1st four-day game: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari (captain), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Shivam Dube, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar, Sandeep Warrier, Avesh Khan, Mohd. Siraj, Ishan Porel, Ishan Kishan
India A squad for 2nd four-day game: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Hanuma Vihari (captain), KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Shivam Dube, R Ashwin, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sandeep Warrier, Avesh Khan, Mohd. Siraj, Ishan Porel