Day after day, it is becoming quite a tough decision as to who will be India’s next Test captain after Virat Kohli.
The most probable answer is Rohit Sharma but there are a plethora of options to choose from.
Let’s have a look at the multitude of options that India has as the next Test skipper.
Arguably, he’s the person who should be leading India in Tests. He has done extremely well across all three formats and proved his mettle as captain too. He successfully led Mumbai Indians to 5 title wins in the IPL. He knows how to manage his team. He is the most respected member of the Indian team and he is calm and patient with other players.
Rohit’s main issue and his sole drawback is his fitness. He was elevated to Test vice-captaincy but could not join the team due to his hamstring injury. He was thus removed from the ODI series vs the Proteas as well. He has a constant history of injuries. So, if he is to be made captain, this factor has to be kept in mind.
Ashwin is a passionate cricketer and gives his all in bowling. He always speaks what’s in his mind and is fearless. But, making a bowler a captain of the Test team may not be a feasible option as he has the double task of bowling and captaincy and he may require constant breaks after long spells of bowling. Thus, a bowler may not always be in on the action. So, Ashwin can be considered an option by the selectors and management if they want an innovative and fearless option as captain.
Ashwin’s flak is he may not be able to deliver in overseas situations or conditions. Foreign pitches are better suited for pacers and spinners can’t do much on these tracks. A recent example was the Test series against South Africa where Ashwin could only muster 3 wickets and was not much used by the team. On overseas tours, it is Ravindra Jadeja who is given preference by the team. So, if the management wants a stop-gap option, then Ashwin can fill in. But, at 35, he also isn’t a long-term option.
India’s swashbuckling keeper-batsman, Rishabh Pant is at the prime of his career. At 24, he seems the perfect option to lead India. But, his style of batting and playing rash shots hasn’t won him many accolades from his fans and he still plays the same game.
It is important that he firstly focus on becoming a proper keeper and batsman for the team before he is eligible in becoming India’s Test captain. He also needs to follow his seniors closely before handling such a big responsibility. His recent century against South Africa was the biggest positive for India.
If Pant becomes Test captain, his batting will falter and this may drastically worsen his performance. He also doesn’t have much experience in leading a team although he did captain the Delhi Capitals admirably and even took them to the playoffs. But leading a Test side is completely different. So, the question remains will he be able to manage the responsibilities of captain, keeper, and batsman?
KL Rahul is leading this race and is in many ways ahead of Pant. He recently captained India in the second Test against the Proteas. He also has recorded as India’s vice-captain in limited-overs cricket. He is currently leading the team in the ODIs vs South Africa in the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma.
At 29, he is the best batsman in all three formats of the game and he has honed his skills as a batsman over years of playing in different teams. He can also be considered as a Test captain option by the management.
But, there are several questions that Rahul needs to battle. Firstly, is he ready to shoulder this responsibility at this time or does he need more time? Will it be pretty early if Test captaincy is handed to him? Also, his position isn’t yet confirmed in the team as he’s always the third choice as opener after Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal.
He has managed to perform brilliantly in the few opportunities that he has been awarded. But, if a player, whose position in the team isn’t even guaranteed is handed the Test baton, will he be able to do it? So, it will not be wise to hand over the captaincy to Rahul just yet.
He is India’s spearhead bowler in all three formats. He is given the utmost respect by everyone in the team. He also participates in field placement discussions which means that his opinion matters. He also revealed in an interview that if given the opportunity, he would be most happy to lead Team India in Tests.
He is 28, calm and cool but aggressive at the same time. He also shares a good relationship with senior and fellow bowlers in the team. If the selectors want a fast bowling option to lead the team, then Bumrah can be that option.
Bumrah may also incur injuries at one time or another as he’s a fast bowler. He sustained a twisted ankle in the first Test while bowling on the 3rd day. And as he’s the fast bowling option in all three formats, he simply cannot be reserved just for Test cricket. So, this can lead to a tricky situation if Bumrah is handed the captaincy.
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