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New India Test captain Rohit Sharma: Is he the best possible option?

Rohit Sharma declared as India’s new full-time Test captain.

Rohit Sharma is declared full-time Test captain of Indian cricket Team. (Image ©BCCI)
Rohit Sharma is declared full-time Test captain of Indian Cricket. (Image ©BCCI)

Since India’s former Test captain Virat Kohli stepped down from his position following their series loss to South Africa by a margin of 1-2 even after starting the three-match duel with a win in December, the most important question was discussing who could become the new Test leader of India.

On Saturday, February 19, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selection committee chairperson, Chetan Sharma confirmed that veteran Rohit Sharma has been appointed as new Test captain.

Rohit Sharma is the number one cricketer of our country: Chetan Sharma.

“Rohit Sharma is the number one cricketer of our country. He is absolutely fit; when a big player like him becomes a captain, the grooming part becomes easy.” tagging Rohit as India’s ‘number 1’ cricketer, Chetan Sharma informed that they are aiming to groom the young players under the 34-year-old who is such a vital member of the Test side, especially in the last couple of years after being slotted as an opener.

“We are happy to name him the captain and we will groom younger names under him. If things go as planned, we would be in a good place.”

Sharma also stressed how confident they are with Rohit. “The longer he leads the better for us. Injury can happen to anyone, no one can predict that. The decision isn’t time-bound,” he added.

“He will continue to lead India as long as he is fit. If the team management thinks he needs rest, then he will be rested in the future.”

Does India have other options available?

Speedster Jasprit Bumrah has been given the job of vice-captain; with KL Rahul being unavailable for the next series. Even though there were other young options to consider, the selectors have shown their firm confidence to go with the experience of Rohit to face Sri Lanka in a two-match home Test series beginning on March 4 as his first assignment.

The right-hander was such an important member of India’s limited-overs sides for a decade but he couldn’t crack the red-ball format until his strong performance in the last three years that led him being included in the ICC 2021 Test team of the year. In all, he has 3047 runs in 43 Tests at a solid average of 46.87.

Still, with all the records, is he the best possible choice? Let’s dissect few drawbacks.

KL Rahul captained Team India in Tests in South Africa. (Image credits BCCI/Twitter)
KL Rahul captained India in Tests in South Africa. (Image credits BCCI/Twitter)

Multi-format Players

There is no doubt how much burden a multi-format player has to carry on his shoulders with the additional responsibility of captaincy in all formats for India. Travelling around the world playing many games close to each other with hardly any rest can spoil someone mentally.

It was exactly one of the reasons why Virat Kohli stepped down from captaincy in format after format. For Rohit Sharma, he had those injury problems in the past or even in the recent times; he tends to miss games after few series.

In that case, India could have gone with few other young players whom they might train under the stars of the current team especially when most of the series in this year is going to be on home soil. Options like Rishabh Pant or KL Rahul, who carried the side in South Africa when Kohli was sidelined during the second Test.

Rohit Sharma’s main vision

The moment Rohit Sharma was handed the white ball captaincy, the main goal for him was to deliver a World Cup trophy win for India to end the long drought of ICC trophies. With just nine months to go for the next T20I World Cup in Australia and few more months after that to welcome the ODI World Cup 2023 in India, Rohit’s appointment as Test captain could prove to be an interference in going for wins in the shorter formats.

No Indian fan will love that fact for sure.

Split Captaincy can be a solution?

India may go on the road of split captaincy throwing the leadership cap to KL Rahul who is now a solid and regular member of the side or to Rishabh Pant who can be examined as to how he responds with the added pressure. Especially, when one gets the best view of the field from behind the stumps, like MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara had done in the past for their respective countries.

Also, to go back in history, MS Dhoni had done the leadership job when big seniors names like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag or Gautam Gambhir were still playing under him.

It is all about trying to use options in hand. Also in this odd world, bio-bubble fatigue is going to be on the head of the captain. Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli have taken a break for few weeks from the game to freshen them up but as of now, Rohit can hardly do that. He will be in charge of the T20I, ODI and Test team with the additional responsibility of leading Mumbai Indians (MI) in the couple months of IPL too.

Just to add some more fuel to the raging fire, he is 34 and will be 35 few months down the line; people like Joe Root, Virat Kohli or Steve Smith were made skippers when they were in their late-20s. There is no reason why India can’t blood Pant or Bumrah now.

Therefore, keeping all the points in mind, the decision of making Rohit Sharma the Test captain seems to be taken in a rapid pace with some possible options too being available. It is after all not the best possible option in the view of some people.

With few unknown names in the Test squad, the new era of India’s Test team has started in tiny steps. India will play a 2-match Test series against Sri Lanka staring on March 4 at Mohali while the second Test will be a day-night affair in Bengaluru from March 12-16.

India’s Test squad for two-match series against Sri Lanka

Rohit Sharma (c), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin (subject to fitness), Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Saurabh Kumar


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