Should Rohit Sharma replace Virat Kohli as India's new Test captain? Photograph:( AFP )
While Rohit Sharma is leading the race and a strong contender to take over from Kohli, ex-India selector and keeper-batter Saba Karim opined on why Hitman can miss out on becoming the all-format captain.
Team India are without a Test captain ever since Virat Kohli resigned from the top post following the 2-1 series loss to South Africa, in the rainbow nation, early this year. Under Kohli, India achieved wholesome success in the red-ball format and, hence, his successor will be on his toes to match his credentials.
As of now, India have quite a few options in the form of Rohit Sharma (vice-captain in Tests and the white-ball skipper), KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah. While Rohit is leading the race and a strong contender to take over from Kohli, ex-India selector and keeper-batter Saba Karim opined on why Rohit can miss out on becoming the all-format captain.
Karim explained on the Khelneeti podcast, "Even if Rohit Sharma is appointed captain in all three formats, it will be a short-term assignment. 2023 is a very important year for Indian cricket. We have the 50-over World Cup and the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) cycle will also end. They need to look at this phase first. They need to groom someone who plays all three formats. Right now, Rohit is the only option because no one like a KL Rahul or Rishabh Pant has been groomed."
He further asserted, "He has earned that respect from his performances. His presence and work ethic is commanding. The England Test series was a challenge for Rohit but he conquered that as well. Keeping all this aside, the biggest challenge for Rohit is whether he is fit."
“Leaving alone leading, even playing all three formats is a huge task for him. He has been injured multiple times and even now he is returning from rehab. The physio, trainers and everyone involved with his fitness needs to be consulted before making such a big decision. We cannot have a captain who gets injured at the start of a Test series," Karim added.
It will be interesting to see who succeeds Kohli as the red-ball captain. Under Kohli, India won their maiden Test series in Australia, achieved an unassailable 2-1 lead over England in the incomplete five-match series in the United Kingdom in mid-2021 and dominated at home. India also played the inaugural WTC final under his leadership. Thus, his successor will be eager to take the team forward in a similar fashion.
India's next red-ball assignment is against Sri Lanka, i.e. a two-match series at home in February-March, and the national selectors will name the next Test captain prior to the series.