New Delhi: BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad announced India's team for the first two Tests against England and the names of Gautam Gambhir and Hardik Pandya, who earned his maiden call, were in the spotlight.
Pandya's name in the Test squad rose many eyebrows and the selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad fielded maximum queries regarding the all-rounder's inclusion.
Prasad clarified, "Pandya's all-round abilities" with a sea change in attitude after working under India A coach Rahul Dravid went in his favour.
"If you look at Hardik Pandya, his pace has increased. His overall personality has mellowed down. He did extremely well in the ODI series and also during the A tour Down Under," Prasad told the mediapersons.
"We all have been trying to find an all-rounder after Kapil Dev. In case we play three spinners, he can be the second seamer and also can bat," MSK reasoned.
Asked about Pandya's attitude, Prasad said: "We all know he is a bit hyper. But he has worked hard under Rahul Dravid and under chief coach Anil Kumble."
Hardik Pandya's competition with fellow all-rounder Sutart Binny was also clarified by the selection committee chairman.
"Hardik is a better bowler than Stuart. Stuart's name was also considered but we felt on current form, Hardik is better."
On fast bowlers workload, Prasad said: "Apart from injury management, we are looking at workload management. We are not struggling when somebody is not fit. We have quite a few players who are doing really well. Lot of cricket is going to some, in case there is injury, we have enough back-up. We are thinking 10 times before picking a player."
The pace duo of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav retained their places in the side. Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay, on the other hand, were automatic inclusions.
The chairman said Bhuvneshwar Kumar has recovered from his back injury but the selection committee wants the UP seamer to at least play a Ranji game and prove his match fitness. Ditto for KL Rahul (hamstring) and Shikhar Dhawan (finger fracture).
Here's the full squad:-
Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jayant Yadav.