Rohit, Rishabh Pant and Ashwin named in ICC Men''s Test Team of 2021 Photograph:( AFP )
With Rohit Sharma ruled out of the upcoming Test series against South Africa, here is a look at three players who can take over as the Indian team's vice-captain in his absence.
Rohit Sharma had been recently appointed as the vice-captain of the Indian Test team, replacing senior batter Ajinkya Rahane ahead of the upcoming tour of South Africa. However, Rohit is now set to miss the three-match series following a hamstring injury. He picked up the injury while practising in Mumbai ahead of the Test series.
India A batter Priyank Panchal has been named Rohit's replacement for the three-match rubber as the Hitman faces a race against time to recover for the three ODIs that will be preceded by the Test series. India are scheduled to play three Tests as many ODIs on their tour of South Africa which gets underway from December 26.
While the BCCI has confirmed Panchal will be his replacement, it is not certain who will be taking over as the vice-captain of the team in his absence. Rahane is unlikely to be handed over the vice-captaincy role after being replaced and a younger player might get a chance to be Kohli's deputy in the series.
Here is a look at players who can replace Rohit Sharma as vice-captain for the South Africa Test series:
1) Rishabh Pant
One of the best performers for India with the bat in Test cricket over the last couple of years, Pant has finally cemented his spot in the Indian team across formats. He played numerous memorable knocks for India on their tour of Australia in 2020-21 to help them win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for a second time in the row under Ajinkya Rahane. Pant also led Delhi Capitals to the playoffs in IPL 2021 and has done well as a captain. He can be a perfect fit for the vice-captain's role in order to be groomed as one of the future leaders of the Indian team in the longest format.
2) Jasprit Bumrah
One of the few members of the current Indian squad, who is a regular across all three formats, Jasprit Bumrah has been a consistent performer for the team ever since making his international debut in 2016. He will be one of the strongest contenders to be Virat Kohli's deputy for the South Africa series. Gifted with a great cricketing brain and exceptional skills, Bumrah has been a mainstay for Team India and has matured into a fine leader of the pace attack. With countries going against the idea of not handing over leadership roles to bowlers, Bumrah can be a perfect choice for vice-captaincy.
3) KL Rahul
KL Rahul can be an obvious choice considering he is also Rohit Sharma's deputy in limited-overs cricket. Rahul has been in and out of the Test team for a while now but can be a regular member of the playing XI in the South Africa Tests considering Rohit's injury and Rahane's poor form. Cheteshwar Pujara has also struggled of late which can open the door for Rahul's inclusion in the XI and he can be made Kohli's deputy in the longest format. He has also led Punjab Kings in the IPL for two seasons and is likely to lead whichever team he joins ahead of IPL 2022.