Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
India have called up two uncapped players in Railways medium-pacer Meghna Singh and Baroda left-hand batter Yastika Bhatia for all three formats for their tour of Australia in September and October. The T20I squad includes another uncapped player, 25-year-old pace-bowling allrounder Renuka Singh of Himachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad returns after missing the tour of England owing to a knee injury and Covid-19.
The 22 playing personnel selected for the Australia tour have been spread across an 18-member consolidated squad for the three ODIs and the one-off pink-ball Test, and a 17-player squad for the three-match T20I series. ESPNcricinfo understands that the selection of an additional player for the tour of Australia, compared to 21 picked for the tour of England earlier this year, was down to allowing Gayakwad and T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur more time to make progress on their fitness before the warm-up fixture scheduled for September 15.
Gayakwad, who had been at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) for several weeks for rehabilitation work around her injured right knee, entered the ongoing preparatory camp in Bengaluru directly from the NCA last week, while the first batch of probables had assembled on August 10. Kaur, meanwhile, returned to India last week, having ended her Hundred stint in the UK prematurely owing to a quad injury. She then joined the other four Hundred-returnees in the camp to round out the pool of 35 probables.
Kaur and Gayakwad are understood to be clinically fit, but their ability to sustain workload for the longer formats is yet to be assessed, especially of Kaur, who is currently serving a mandatory six-day quarantine in the Bengaluru bubble. Given the squad for the Australia assignment was finalised on Monday, the possibility of deferring a decision on the inclusion of Kaur and Gayakwad was off the table. They are both, however, expected to train ahead of India's departure on August 29.
The injection of pace in Thakur and Meghna aligns with head coach Ramesh Powar's thrust on widening the fast-bowling pool ahead of next year's ODI World Cup in New Zealand.
Yastika had got her maiden India call-up in March, for the limited-overs series against South Africa in Lucknow, but she warmed the bench all through.
Wicketkeeper-batter Indrani Roy, top-order batter Priya Punia, and medium-pacer Simran Bahadur, who were part of the 21-member squad that toured England in June-July, have been left out. None of them featured in the playing XI in any of the matches against England.
India have also decided to split the wicketkeeping duties, with Taniya Bhatia selected for the Test and ODIs, and Richa Ghosh chosen for the T20Is.
Before picking the final squad, the five-member selection panel met with Powar and several senior players in Bengaluru. Selectors Neetu David and V Kalpana are expected to be in the touring party to Australia, where the visitors will serve a mandatory 14-day hard quarantine. Meanwhile, Gargi Banerjee, the India manager for the tour of Australia, entered the biobubble in Bengaluru on Tuesday after a two-day delay, and is likely to be in quarantine through the best part of this week. She was felicitated in Kolkata on Saturday by the Cricket Association of Bengal for her appointment, causing the delay.
India will begin the tour with three ODIs, after which they will play a day-night Test. There will be three T20Is to conclude the tour.
Only Test and ODIs squad: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-capt), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Ekta Bisht.
T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (capt), Smriti Mandhana (vice-capt), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.
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