Pant, Panchal in India A squad for New Zealand series

Rishabh Pant walks back after being dismissed Getty Images

Rishabh Pant has been picked in India A's 14-man squad and Karun Nair named captain for the two four-day games against New Zealand A starting September 23 in Vijayawada. Pant replaces his former India Under-19 team-mate Ishan Kishan, who kept wicket in the two four-day games in South Africa, which India A levelled, last month.

Priyank Panchal, the Gujarat opener and the previous Ranji Trophy season's highest run-scorer, returned to the side after missing the tour of South Africa because of dengue. Vijay Shankar, the Tamil Nadu allrounder, picked in Panchal's place for that tour, was left out.

Panchal made back-to-back centuries in the Duleep Trophy opener, and is likely to open the batting with R Samarth, the only other specialist opener in the squad. Abhinav Mukund, who was initially picked for the South Africa tour, only to miss out after being called up for the Test tour of Sri Lanka, has been left out.

K Gowtham, the Karnataka offspinner, drafted in as a late replacement for Jayant Yadav, who missed the four-day games in South Africa because of his father's death, retained his place. Gowtham was India A's second-highest wicket-taker (seven) in two matches, behind Shahbaz Nadeem (11).

The selectors also pruned the squad from 15 to 14, leaving out left-arm fast bowler Aniket Choudhary. Shardul Thakur, left out of the ODI squad for the first three matches against Australia, is likely to speahead the pace attack.

The first game will clash with the Duleep Trophy final, scheduled from September 25 to 29 in Lucknow. It is likely that a majority of the India A players could miss that game.

The Duleep Trophy, originally scrapped from the 2017-18 domestic calendar, was a last-minute addition to the domestic calendar following a letter from Sourav Ganguly, head of BCCI's technical committee, to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators.

India A Squad for two four-day games: Priyank Panchal, R Samarth, Sudip Chatterjee, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawne, Karun Nair (capt), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shahbaz Nadeem, K Gowtham, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Ankit Rajpoot