New Delhi, February 19: Rohit Sharma was on Saturday appointed the new Test captain of the Indian team as selectors initiated the transition phase by dropping struggling veterans Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha and Ishant Sharma for the Sri Lanka series.
The PTI had earlier reported that team management has decided to move on from Saha and 100-Test plus Ishant and chances were dim for both Pujara and Rahane to retain their places.
On Saturday, chairman of selectors 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.
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.
Washington Sundar and KL Rahul are nursing their hamstrings before start of Indian Premier League.
Kuldeep Yadav, who was dumped by Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, has been brought back from the cold as he made his return into Test team.
Sanju Samson’s start-stop international career got a lifeline in the T20s against Sri Lanka. Pant along with Virat Kohli has been rested while rookie left-arm spinner from Uttar Pradesh Saurabh Kumar made his maiden entry into Test side.
Rohit the only choice
While it was known long back after Kohli tendered his resignation from Tests, Rohit’s emergence as Test captain is a remarkable story of grit and determination. Once considered someone who would have a great Test career, opening the innings changed the course of his career. After the England Test tour, there was no looking back.
“Rohit Sharma is number one cricketer of our country and the most important thing is that he is playing all the three formats,” Sharma made it clear that he was the “unanimous choice” and there was no discussion about any other names.
He made it clear tha even Rohit will get his breaks periodically as the body needs rest and that’s something they will manage.
“The most important thing is how we manage Rohit. All the cricketers are professionals. They know their body and they manage their body and Rohit is absolutely (fit), there is no problem at all,” he added.
Three vice-captains to be groomed
Under Rohit, the aim is to groom new captains and it became clear that KL Rahul after a poor show in South Africa is no longer the automatic heir apparent.
“…and if such a big cricketer comes forward, if such an experienced player becomes a captain, then automatically, the things that we as a selection committee want, grooming captain under Rohit, will be tremendous thing for us,” Sharma outlined his committee’s vision.
He did take three names who have either led or been deputy in the past few months, saying the trio of Bumrah, Pant and Rahul will be groomed by Rohit.
“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 fast bowler said.
India Test squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, KS Bharat, R Ashwin (fitness), Ravi Jadeja, Jayant Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Saurabh Kumar.
India T20 squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Bhuveshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Mohammad Siraj, Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan. (PTI)