Virat, Pant or Bumrah: India Stares at Captaincy Puzzle
LONDON, (IANS) – With a question mark hanging over skipper Rohit Sharma’s availability for the rescheduled fifth Test against England starting at Edgartown on July 1 as the charismatic batter continues his recovery from Covid-19, India has a captaincy puzzle to contend with ahead of the high-stakes contest.
India led the five-match Test series 2-1, and a win or even a draw will help them clinch the series, but a loss would certainly not do their morale any good given the busy season ahead and the crucial World Test Championship points at stake.
Sharma had tested positive for Covid-19 during the warm-up game against Leicestershire, missing the second innings of the match. There is hope in the Indian team management that he will recover in time for the Test, but should he fail to do so, India will be in a piquant situation as vice-captain KL Rahul too has been ruled out due to a groin injury.
On June 27, India had to fly opener Mayank Agarwal to join the squad in Birmingham as cover for Sharma. While the India squad still has a few members in the side who can step up to fill the void, it remains to be seen how things pan out in the next couple of days.
Among the leading contenders for the role of captain should Sharma continue his process of recovery, is pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah who was earlier named vice-captain during India’s tour of South Africa during the ODI series, with KL Rahul leading the side in Sharma’s absence. He is yet to don the leadership hat for India in any format and has also not captained a side in the IPL.
India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant is a rising star and is being groomed as a future captain. He recently captained India in the five-match T20I series at home against South Africa, and while it wasn’t the most promising of starts for Pant, as India drew 2-2. Pant’s aggressive instincts could come in handy.
While former skipper Virat Kohli has an outside chance of being asked to lead the side but given the fact that it was under him that India took the 2-1 lead against England last year, it would be befitting for him to complete the unfinished task.
Kohli gave up the captaincy in the longest format after a 2-1 series loss in South Africa. But there is no questioning his credentials as a leader. Under him, India scaled the peak of Test cricket, becoming the No.1 ranked side in the world and reaching the final of the World Test Championship. Kohli is India’s most successful captain in the longest format. Whether Kohli will even want to don the captaincy role again remains to be seen.