Under-performing batsmen Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan retained their place in India's 15-member cricket squad for the three-Test home series against New Zealand as the selectors today kept faith in the side that beat West Indies recently.
While Rohit has averaged just 24.05 in 11 Tests in the past two years, Dhawan's average in the last 12 months is just above 28. Judging by these numbers, it is entirely possible that KL Rahul and Murali Vijay will be the first-choice opening pair.
All-rounder Stuart Binny and pacer Shardul Thakur were overlooked from the squad which was pruned to 15 from the 17 that defeated West Indies 2-0 last month in an away series. The Test rubber against New Zealand starts September 22 in Kanpur.
"We have stuck to the combination which has done very well. We were of the opinion that this was the best possible combination for New Zealand," chief selector Sandeep Patil told reporters after chairing the final meeting of the current selection committee.
Defending the selection of Rohit, whose Test record is well below par after 18 games, Patil said the Mumbai batsman has not been given a consistent run in the longest form of the game.
Rohit's form was expected to be a major talking point today given that in the series against West Indies, he mustered only 9 and 41 from two innings in the third Test at Gros Islet, the only time he got a chance to play in the series.
He also did not do well in the first innings of the ongoing Duleep Trophy final in Greater Noida after being specifically included in one of the teams -- India Blue -- following his return from the West Indies and the USA.
"Rohit is a fabulous player, with immense talent. He hasn't got a long run in Test cricket as he has been picked for one Test and then dropped. The selection committee, along with captain (Virat Kohli) and coach (Anil Kumble) said they will give ample opportunities to anyone who is picked," Patil said.
"We have tremendous faith in all 15 but we are not focusing only on 15. There are others too as bench strength," added the former Mumbai and India batsman.