After Virat Kohli’s sudden decision to step down as Test captain, all eyes are now on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCi) and the national selection panel which will pick the next skipper of the Indian cricket team.
The national selection panel led by former India cricketer Chetan Sharma is expected to name the Test captain after the ODI series against South Africa.
Even as newly-appointed white-ball skipper Rohit Sharma is most likley the next choice, other players like KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and ace-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin are also in the fray based on their leadership abilities. One thing is for sure that the selectors will have a headache on how to go about replacing Kohli at the helm and in such a scnario, SportzFront take a look at the list of potential captaincy candidates.
The first name that surfaces in anyone’s mind is that of none other than flamboyant opener Rohit Sharma, who was appointed as the Indian limited-overs captain a month ago beside being named as the vice-captain of the Indian Test team for the South Africa tour.
As the BCCI doesn’t believe in split captaincy, Rohit Sharma’s appointment as the next Test captain looks inevitable.
Earlier, the selectors’ massive faith in Rohit was clearly visible when they appointed him as India’s white-ball captain ahead of the ongoing South Africa tour. Moreover, with the World Test Championship (WTC) final’s second edition and the ODI World Cup scheduled in 2023, the selectors might opt to go with Rohit as it would provide stability in the decision making across all the three formats.
The last few months have been quite fruitful for opener KL Rahul.
Rahul came up with brilliant performances in England and became the first-choice opener alongside Rohit in the Tests.
After Rohit’s appointment as the new white-ball skipper, Rahul was given the vice-captaincy role in the limited overs formats. Later, when Rohit was ruled out of the ongoing South Africa tour, Rahul was handed the vice-captaincy role of team India in Tests. He was also named as the captain of the Indian limited-overs side for the South African tour.
In the past, as Rohit has always been in and out of the team due to his frequent injury woes, Rahul can also be a good captaincy choice for the national selectors.
Pant has been recognised as a great talent by not only his colleagues but also by cricket pundits, former cricketers and legends of the game.
After his standout performance against Australia in January 2021, when he took India to a historic win at the Gabba with an unbeaten 89, Pant has undoubtedly showed the fighter inside him. Recently, he once again showed his fighting performance in the Newlands Test against South Africa, scoring a century in an innings where all other succumbed.
Recenlty, former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar had too, thrown his weight behind Pant as India’s next red-ball captain.
Citing Rohit Sharma’s appointment as captain of Mumbai Indians in 2013, Gavaskar told India Today: “Just like Rohit Sharma was given the captaincy of Mumbai Indians when Ricky Ponting stepped down, look at the change in his batting after that. Suddenly the responsibility of being captain made him convert those beautiful cameos of 30s, 40s and 50s into hundreds, 150s and 200s.”
Veteran Ravichandran Ashwin’s name could also be making round in the selector’s mind when they sit to pick the next Indian Test captain as the off-spinner is undoubteldy one of the brightest thinkers of the game.
Considered as one of the greats of the modern day game, Ashwin has 430 Test wickets from 84 Tests at an average 24.38 and has also amassed 2,844 runs at 26.83. Not only with the ball but Ashwin, one of the senior cricketers in the side, has been handy with the willow whenever situation demanded.
Meanwhile, Ashwin also carries experience of captaining a team in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Although Ashwin is 35 now, he, being a spinner, can surely play Test cricket for the next 4-5 seasons if he is fit.
With 113 wickets from 27 Tests, Jasprit Bumrah is inarguably one of the world’s best fast-bowlers.
Bumrah would also be the India vice-captain during the ODI series against South Africa and has himslef said that taking responsibility and helping teammates comes naturally to him.
With Gavaskar chosing Pant as the right candidate for India’s Test captain, presenter Harsha Bhogle believes that Jasprit Bumrah is also one of the valuable candidates apart from Ashwin, Rohit and Rahul. Bhogle feels Bumrah is a very good thinker of the game and so can be the candidate as well.
Recently, Bumrah had said that he’ll be “ready to don the captain’s hat if given the responsibility.”
‘If given an opportunity, it will be an honour and I don’t see any player would say no and I am no different. Be it any leadership group, I always look to contribute however I can, to the best of my abilities,” Bumrah said in a virtual press conference ahead of the ODI series against South Africa starting Wednesday (January 19).