Veteran opener Murali Vijay was axed after a disastrous show in the first two Tests while Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav made way for an additional batsman as a third spinner is not required in the seamer-friendly English conditions.
Vijay bagged a ‘pair’ against England at the Lord’s and scored 20 and 6 in Birmingham. With Shikhar Dhawan and K L Rahul putting up a much-improved show, the axe was always looming large on the 34-year-old Tamil Nadu opener.
Also, his form outside the sub-continent has been wretched for sometime now even though he has a decent average of 39.33 across 59 Test matches. He has scored 3933 runs with 12 hundreds. There is a fair chance that Vijay has played his last Test at the Lord’s.
The 18-year-old Prithvi, who had captained India U-19 to World Cup triumph earlier this year, is set to be rewarded for his consistent show in the first-class arena.
Prithvi has scored 1418 runs in 14 first-class games with an average of 56.72 and seven centuries. He was one of the star performers along with Vihari and Mayank Agarwal during India A team’s recent tour of the UK.
Vihari, a member of the 2012 U-19 World Cup team, has been a consistent scorer in Ranji Trophy and has also done well for India A in recent times.
It is learnt that the Indian team management and the selectors feel that an extra batsman in these conditions won’t be of any harm.
Vihari enjoys a phenomenal average of nearly 60 in 63 first-class games with 5142 runs and 15 hundreds to his credit.
His game is cut out for the longest format with good defensive technique. During the tour of UK, he scored 147 in a List A game against West Indies A. He also had a half century in a four-day ‘Test’ against the same opponents.
Recently, he also scored 54 and 148 in the two ‘Tests’ against South Africa A side at home.
The fourth Test will be played at Southampton from August 30 while the fifth match will start at the Oval in London from September 7.
The Squad (for 4th and 5th Test): Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, K L Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Hanuma Vihari.