Team India ended a torrid tour of South Africa on Sunday (January 23). After winning the tour opener, i.e. the Centurion Test, everything went downhill for the visitors. India missed the services of regular captain Virat Kohli for the second and penultimate Test — at The Wanderers, Johannesburg — due to upper back spasm and lost the plot from thereon.
Under KL Rahul, India lost their first-ever Test in J’burg. The series was levelled ahead of the Test series finale, where Kohli returned to the playing XI but failed to take India to a maiden series win in whites in the rainbow nation. India lost the Tests 2-1 and went onto lose the preceding three ODIs 3-0. Amid all this, Kohli stepped down as the Test captain — after having been sacked as the ODI skipper and resigning as T20I captain last year.
Ahead of India’s next Test series, i.e. a two-match series versus Sri Lanka at home before IPL 15, the national selectors have a tough ask to name the next captain in the red-ball format. Former Aussie spinner Shane Warne has named who should take over from Kohli in whites.
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While there are four names doing the rounds for the Test captaincy spot — KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant — Warne has ruled out Pant’s name. The spin wizard feels Bumrah can be the next Test captain.
“India are very lucky that they have got so many different options and people that could captain the team. For me, Jasprit Bumrah could do it but I think Rohit for the next couple of years and have him (Bumrah) as deputy. I don’t like a wicketkeeper as captain. I think a wicketkeeper makes a good vice-captain and deputies, never captain. So that is how I see it but India have got plenty of options. Rahane would be fantastic but his form just has just slipped a little lately. We saw what a terrific job he did in Australia last season when Virat went home. We know he can do a terrific job in the Test area. He just needs to make sure he is making runs,” Warne told Hindustan Times in an interview arranged by BookMyShow stream, the platform which premiers the spinner’s documentary film ‘Shane’.
Warne, however, opened up on Pant and his batting approach. For the unversed, Pant played two good knocks in the just-concluded SA tour — including a Test ton and a gritty 85 in the second ODI — but drew criticism for his shot selection in India’s second innings of the J”burg Test and the tour finale (i.e. the third ODI). In this regard, Warne said, “Do not change. Do not change, Rishabh Pant. He is my favourite cricketer. Let him keep playing the way he plays. The only statement I would say to Rishabh Pant… ‘All he needs to ask himself all the time is… what does the team need me to do right now? He asks himself that question and he will play the right way. Look, I hope no one changes Rishabh Pant. Just play the way you play because he is exciting and he is great to watch. I love him.”
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While Bumrah is also an option for Test captaincy, Rohit is the strongest contender to be the next skipper. He is already the limited-overs captain and can be asked to take up the same role in whites for a brief period, grooming his successor. As Bumrah doesn’t feature in majority of India’s home Tests, he might lose the battle to his IPL skipper Rohit.
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