‘Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin must be stop-gap Test captain'

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‘Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin must be stop-gap Test captain’
© Provided by The Times of India

MUMBAI: Indian cricket is in the midst of a massive debate: Who should be the next Test captain of India post Virat Kohli vacating the post? At the moment, sources point towards Rohit Sharma — who is already India’s white-ball captain in Kohli’s place — being the top favourite for the position. Rohit was appointed as the vice-captain of India’s Test side before the tour of South Africa, before a hamstring injury ruled him out.

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Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar and India’s 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh are batting for star wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who slammed a hundred in the final Test, to take over as the new Test captain.

Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar, though, recommends that, for now, anyone amongst Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin should be the new skipper of India’s Test team, as Pant and opener KL Rahul aren’t yet ready for the job.

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“I would appoint Rohit or Ashwin as a stop-gap captain and groom the future captain. Right now, you need somebody with captaincy experience and an assured place in the Test side. Rohit and Ashwin have established themselves in Test cricket,” Vengsarkar told TOI.

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“Pant, Rahul, or Shreyas (Iyer) need another year before they’ll be ready for the job. Pant has proved his mettle, but needs to work on his shot-selection. Till then, either of them can be asked to captain India in the white-ball format, and be the vice-captain in Tests. That ways, they’ll get to observe and learn how to lead the Indian team,” he added.

Back in 2007, Vengsarkar, who was then the chairman of the selection committee, and his panel had appointed then veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble as the Test captain for the series against Pakistan, when everyone thought MS Dhoni would be appointed for the job.

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“We wanted to give some more time to Dhoni before he took the Test captaincy. He was already the white-ball captain, and we wanted him to learn a few things by following Kumble closely. Kumble led India superbly in that period,” he recalled.

The 116-Test veteran blamed the previous selection committees over the years for the leadership crisis in Indian cricket following Virat Kohli’s exit as captain.

“It has been caused over the years by the selectors’ lack of vision in grooming a captain for the future. Like we groomed Dhoni, they just haven’t identified the right man to replace Kohli as a captain. I just couldn’t understand why Shikhar Dhawan was named as the captain of India’s tour of Sri Lanka last year,” Vengsarkar opined.

READ ALSO: ‘Players responding to changes’: Jasprit Bumrah allays transition fears

“Rohit is my choice. He’s still got a lot of cricket in him. By virtue of being the best batsman in the team today, he’s a certainty in the side. He’s got the tactical skills for captaincy. He’s a good man-manager. He’s an experienced, cool, responsible guy. All this talk about giving captaincy to someone for a decade is nonsense,” said former Mumbai captain and chief selector Milind Rege.

Rege too was critical of KL Rahul’s captaincy during the second Test against South Africa at Wanderers, which India lost.

READ ALSO: If given an opportunity, it will be an honour to captain India: Jasprit Bumrah

“Captaining India is not easy. Rahul, I thought, was found wanting as a captain. His inexperience of captaining a team — leading an IPL team is completely different to captaining a side in a Test match — cost us dear. You could’ve waited before asking him to lead the team in a Test. A vice-captain doesn’t need to automatically become the captain,” Rege explained.

Pant, though, has his backers.

“This is the perfect time to make him Test captain. He’s 24, and in fine form and could be a long-term option. Captaincy might also bring out the best in him,” said ex selector Sarandeep Singh.

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