With Rohit Sharma sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19, speculation has swirled about who will lead Team India in the fifth Test against England which begins in Birmingham on Friday. While Rohit Sharma was named the captain, KL Rahul was named his deputy for the match at Edgbaston. Unfortunately, KL Rahul suffered a groin injury before the start of the T20I series against South Africa and is yet to fully recover from the issue. As both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are set to miss the decider against the Three Lions, former Pakistan cricketer Danish Kaneria has urged the Indian team management, including head coach Rahul Dravid to reappoint Virat Kohli as the captain of the national Test team in their absence.
Rishabh Pant may have led India in the T20I series against the Proteas, but several former cricketers, including the legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Ashish Nehra, were critical of his captaincy skills. Danish Kaneria too wasn't impressed by Rishabh Pant's leadership skills and doesn't want to see him captaining the Indian team in the crucial fifth Test against England.
On the other hand, Rishabh Pant received severe criticism from all quarters for his mediocre batting. The 24-year-old explosive batter could only make 58 runs in his five outings against the South Africans.
But it wasn't just his low tally of runs that came under fire from fans and pundits alike. Rather it was the manner of his dismissals that was questioned because on four occasions he lost his wicket while fetching balls from well outside off stump. His poor form with the bat and his dubious calls as captain during the South Africa series has convinced Danish Kaneria that Rishabh Pant isn't mature enough to lead India in a crunch match like the one against England.
“Rishabh Pant is not mature enough to be captain. He got a chance to lead the side in the South Africa series but did a horrible job. Captaincy also tends to take a toll on his batting. I feel that he shouldn't be the captain anymore,” Danish Kaneria said on his YouTube channel.
“I'm surprised that Kohli's name isn't being suggested. Pant and Bumrah are in the race to lead the team in Edgbaston. Pujara has been playing in England for so long. He also can lead the team if Rohit isn't available. The best option for India is to give the captaincy to Kohli. He can return if India doesn't find any other option. But I am hopeful that Rohit will be leading the team in the fifth Test,” Danish Kaneria added.
Danish Kaneria also felt that if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) elevated Jasprit Bumrah to the captaincy, it could hamper his bowling. If he's given the opportunity to lead the Indian team, Jasprit Bumrah would have to focus on a different job altogether and may not get the time to think about how to execute his plans against the England batters.
“BCCI has indicated that Pant, Bumrah or Ashwin could be given the captaincy if Rohit isn't available. Bumrah shouldn't be given the load of captaincy and he should rather concentrate on his bowling. I wouldn't want him to lead the side.”
Earlier India great Virender Sehwag had suggested that Rohit Sharma should be relieved of captaincy from at least one format of the game for better workload management.
Virender Sehwag even went on to say that Rohit Sharma was 35 and was not going younger.
“If the Indian team management has someone else in mind as captain in the T20 format, then I think, Rohit (Sharma) could be relieved and the following can be taken into consideration going forward,” Virender Sehwag told news agency PTI in an interview.
“One, that would allow Rohit to manage his workload and mental fatigue, given his age. Two, once someone new is appointed as captain in T20s, it would also allow Rohit to take breaks and rejuvenate himself to lead India in both Tests and ODIs,” he added.
“If the Indian think-tank still wants to pursue with the same policy, which is, to let one man leading India in all the three formats, then I still believe, Rohit Sharma is the best man for it,” Virender Sehwag pointed out.
The upcoming match against the Ben Stokes-led side was originally scheduled to be held in 2021. But fear of a breakout of coronavirus in the Indian contingent led to its postponement.
Then head coach Ravi Shastri and a support staff member in the Indian team had tested positive for the virus, and the players were wary of taking to the field under such circumstances. Eventually, the BCCI and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to postpone the game.