Rohit Sharma was on Saturday named as India’s Test captain, one of the highest-pressure jobs in world sport, completing his takeover of the leadership across cricket formats after Virat Kohli’s exit.
Senior batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were dropped from the squad.
Rohit, 34, will lead the side in the upcoming two Test series against Sri Lanka starting March 4, chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma told reporters but also confirmed that it is not a stop-gap measure, and that Rohit will be officially the captain across all formats, while his workload is managed.
Ind vs SL: Chetan Sharma on dropping Rahane and Pujara, naming Rohit Test captain and more
Chetan Sharma said: “Rohit is the No. 1 cricketer of our country. He plays all three formats. Most important is, how we manage Rohit. These days all cricketers are professionals. They know their body, they manage it well. Now there is no problem at all. Time to time we will stay in talks with him. If such a big cricketer becomes captain, automatically we, as a selection committee, feel we can groom future captains under him.”
The Sri Lanka Tests series, starting March 4, will also mark comeback of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who has recovered from a knee injury. Shubman Gill too has recovered from shin stress fracture. Shardul Thakur has also been rested in both formats against Sri Lanka,
Chetan Sharma made it clear that Rohit was the unanimous choice and will be the bridge between the new and old in the current set-up as they groom three potential captaincy materials in KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant. All three have led or been deputy at some point.
“We made KL the captain in South Africa. Bumrah was the deputy in South Africa and again for Sri Lanka series. In West Indies T20s, we had Rishabh as vice-captain. These are potential leaders to be groomed under Rohit. Yes, it is difficult to say who will be next captain but we are sure a name will emerge,” the former India fast bowler said.
On they decision to leave out Rahane and Pujara, Chetan said: “We thought long and hard before arriving at decision. We have spoken to them before and told them that they won’t be part of two tests against Sri Lanka. Doors are totally open to them. It’s just for these two tests,” said Sharma while explaining the decision.
“They have served the country for so long. They can come back, why not? It’s like a graph. .. Rahane hit a hundred yesterday. this is a process of managing…Who wouldn’t be happy if they come back?”
Meanwhile, KL Rahul and Washington Sundar were ruled out of Sri Lanka’s entire tour due to injuries. Kuldeep Yadav has been brought back too as he made his return into Test squad after making a white-ball comeback. Sanju Samson’s start-stop international career got a lifeline in the T20s against Sri Lanka. Rishabh Pant along with Virat Kohli has been rested for those matches. Rookie left-arm spinner from Uttar Pradesh Saurabh Kumar earned a call-up to the Test side as well with Axar not available.
1) Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli have been rested for the third and final T20I against West Indies and the T20I series against Sri Lanka. They have exited the team bio-bubble in Kolkata.
2) KL Rahul and Washington Sundar are yet to fully recover and were not available for selection for the Sri Lanka series.
3) Axar Patel is currently undergoing his rehab and is not available for selection for the first Test. He will be assessed later to ascertain his selection for the second Test.
4) Shardul Thakur has been rested for the Sri Lanka series.
Rohit Sharma (c), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, KS Bharat, Ashwin Ravichandran (subject to fitness), Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Saurabh Kumar.
Rohit Sharma (c) Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Bumrah (vc), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Sanju Samson (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Avesh Khan.
Sri Lanka tour schedule
First T20I: Feb 24 – Lucknow
Second T20I: Feb 26 – Dharamsala
Third T20I: Feb 27 – Dharamsala
First Test: Mar 4 to Mar 8 – Mohali
Second Test: Mar 12 to Mar 16 – Bengaluru
With PTI and AFP inputs