Shubman Gill and Vijay Shankar to replace Rahul and Pandya

Cricket


Shubman Gill and Vijay Shankar have been called up as replacements for KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya in India’s limited-overs squads.

Shankar will join the team that is currently in Australia ahead of the second ODI, which will be played in Adelaide on January 15. Gill, meanwhile, will not feature in the ODI series in Australia but will join the team in New Zealand, where India are scheduled to play five ODIs and three T20Is, starting January 23.

The Indian selectors were forced to name replacements after the Committee of Administrators suspended Pandya and Rahul for their controversial comments on a TV show.

This is the first India call-up for the 19-year-old Gill, who is fresh off an outstanding Ranji Trophy campaign for Punjab, scoring 728 runs in nine innings at an average of 104, including two hundreds and four half-centuries, his runs coming at a strike rate of 78.61. Prior to the Ranji campaign, Gill was also part of the India A squad that toured New Zealand.

Gill enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2018, when he was named Player of the tournament during India’s Under-19 World Cup triumph in New Zealand. It was during the tournament that he was signed by Kolkata Knight Riders for INR 1.8 crores. Jostling for a lower middle order berth in a star-studded batting line-up, he struck an unbeaten match-winning 57 against Chennai Super Kings. It was then that Dinesh Karthik, the KKR captain, said: “That boy is special. I don’t want to hype it up and put extra pressure on him. I can see a lot of years of India Blues in him.”

This is Shankar’s second time in the Indian dressing room after making his T20I debut in the Nidhas Trophy in March 2018. Shankar’s inclusion as a like-for-like replacment for Pandya might have come easy for the selectors after the Tamil Nadu allrounder finished as the highest run-maker during the one-day leg of the India A tour of New Zealand in November.

Shankar played the role of the finisher successfully, cracking 188 runs at an average of 94 in the three matches.

CoA split over inquiry procedure

Meanwhile, both Pandya and Rahul have a week to respond to the showcause notice issued to them by the CoA on Friday. The two-member CoA comprising Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji is figuring out who should carry out the inquiry once the players submit their explanations. The two members aren’t on the same page on this matter, which is complicated by the sexual-harrassment inquiry that the BCCI CEO Rahul Johri recently faced.

Rai is in favour of following the BCCI legal team’s opinion, which dictates that the CEO reach out to the players and seek an “early” explanation from them so that the inquiry can be expedited. In an email sent to Edulji on Saturday, Rai said the BCCI should conclude the inquiry by the end of the second ODI, which is on January 15, because it could not “afford to debilitate” the India team’s strength due to the “delinquent behaviour on part of some player.”

On Thursday, the BCCI legal team had told the CoA that as per rules, once the CEO had submitted his report based on the players’ explanation, the rightful and final authority to adjudicate the issue would be the Ombudsman. However, the BCCI has not appointed a new Ombudsman since the expiration of Justice AP Shah’s one-year term in 2016. The legal team recommended an ad-hoc Ombudsman be appointed as a stop-gap measure. Rai suggested to Edulji that the amicus curiae – Gopal Subramanium – appoint the ad-hoc Ombudsman.

However, Edulji disagreed. “We should be in no hurry to conduct the inquiry as then it will look like a cover up job being done,” she wrote in response to Rai. She also said Johri being involved in the inquiry would be “bad optics” owing to the “grave sexual allegations levied” on him recently, which were cleared by a three-member ad-hoc committee in controversial circumstances.

Instead of the ad-hoc Ombudsman, a role she pointed out the BCCI constitution does not “provide”, Edulji said the probe should be carried out by the CoA in the company of the three BCCI office bearers, or the CoA and the board’s acting secretary Amitabh Choudhury. Rai, who is overseas, has not yet responded.

GMT 1940 The article was amended after the BCCI sent out its release confirming the selection of Gill and Vijay Shankar. The article had earlier said Mayank Agarwal was likely to be named as Rahul’s replacement.



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