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    Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya Return As BCCI Name Squad For First Two Tests Against England

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    Indian skipper Virat Kohli returned to the national side as the BCCI on Tuesday announced the Test squad to take on England in the first two matches of the upcoming four-match series. All-rounder Hardik Pandya and senior fast bower Ishant Sharma, who were not part of the just-concluded Test series in Australia, have made a comeback to the side. Ishant missed the series Down Under due to an injury he suffered during the IPL 2020, while Hardik was omitted as he hadn’t resumed bowling after undergoing a back surgery.

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    Leading fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who missed the fourth Test against Australia due to injuries, have also been named in the squad.

    Given the spin-friendly nature of Indian pitch, the selectors have opted for an extra spinner in Axar Patel, along side the likes of Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Washington Sundar.

    Mohammed Siraj, who finished as India’s leading wicket-taker in Australia series with 13 wickets, has found a place, while Shardul Thakur, who had an impressive overseas debut, has also been included in the side.

    In addition, the selection committee also picked up five reserve players — KS Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar and Priyank Panchal, while Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, Krishnappa Gowtham and Saurabh Kumar were picked as the five net bowlers. 

    Fast bowler Umesh Yadav and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who were both ruled out of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the middle of the series, will miss the first two Tests slated to be played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. 

    The first Test will begin on February 5, while the second match of the four-match series will start on February 13.

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    The last two matches of the series will be played at the largest cricket stadium in the world — Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.

    India’s squad for first two Tests against England: Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, and Axar Patel

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