While the selectors have decided to persist with off-colour veterans like Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara in Test cricket and elevated Rohit to a major leadership role across formats, TOI understands the bigger picture is to groom the younger generation in important and leadership roles.
In this situation, the focus has shifted on who will get the vice-captaincy in the ODI format. The obvious choice at the moment is KL Rahul but it is learned that the selectors are considering grooming wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant as the next long-term leader.
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“It’s important to maintain a balance. The selectors are not for making drastic changes. But the team management and the selectors are keen on giving younger players more important roles going forward. Pant is definitely seen as an important part of the leadership group although Rahul is the frontrunner for the vice-captaincy in ODIs because he is already the deputy to Rohit in T20Is,” a source close to the selectors told TOI.
TOI had reported on Dec 4 that Rohit will replace Rahane as the Test vice-captain and on Tuesday, it had reported that Ishant, Rahane and Pujara will all travel to South Africa. The selectors deferred picking the ODI team but announced Rohit as the captain so that he could be part of the next selection meeting.
Rohit Sharma (AFP Photo)
“Rohit needed a clarity on his role. There aren’t many ODIs before India play the 2023 World Cup and he is big on grooming the next generation leader too. Virat Kohli too understood the situation,” a source said.
As far as the Test team is concerned, the idea is to steadily phase out the seniors rather than delivering a shock. “The idea is to maximise their experience which will help groom the next lot. You can’t throw the youngsters into the deep end all of a sudden. The youngsters will get to play alongside the seniors and when they gain on experience, they can assume bigger responsibilities. And these three veterans (Rahane, Pujara and Ishant) deserve a longer rope for their services. They can still turn things around with their experience,” the source added.
Jadeja, Axar, Gill out with injury
In a major blow, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Shubman Gill have been ruled out of the three-Test series in South Africa due to injuries. Jadeja is struggling with his ligament while Gill’s shin injury has resurfaced. Patel too is suffering from a stress fracture.
Ravindra Jadeja and Shubman Gill (AFP Photo)
India’s Test squad:
Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj.
Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.