Who will be the Next Test team Indian Captain?
India, the powerhouse of cricket, embarks on a new cycle in the World Test Championship with a series in the West Indies this July. As the two-year journey unfolds, key questions arise regarding India’s future in Test cricket. With stalwarts like Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, and Mohammed Shami all edging towards the twilight of their careers, the crucial query remains: Does India have a robust succession plan in place to manage the inevitable transition?
Let’s dive into the big questions that loom over the Indian Test team, and explore the potential scenarios that the decision-makers in Indian cricket will have to address.
How Long Will Rohit and Kohli Grace Test Cricket?
Virat Kohli, the run machine, is on the verge of surpassing VVS Laxman to become India’s fourth-highest run-scorer in Test cricket. With a mere 1,521 runs needed to reach the prestigious milestone of 10,000 Test runs, the focus shifts to his future plans. Does Kohli intend to continue his Test career beyond 2025? This question becomes all the more crucial considering the lack of a strong candidate to fill the No. 5 spot, a position once occupied by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.
Similarly, Rohit Sharma’s Test career has witnessed its fair share of ups and downs. From selection and form issues to recent fitness concerns, his journey has been a rollercoaster ride. As the captain across all formats, his role as an opener holds immense importance. The selectors must ponder whether Rohit should continue playing all formats or shift his focus to Tests and ODIs, giving him the opportunity to groom his successors.
The Quest for the Next Test Captain
Hardik Pandya’s recent success with the Gujarat Titans makes him a front-runner for India’s T20I captaincy, with the possibility of leading in ODIs as well. However, the picture is not as clear when it comes to the next Test captain. Rishabh Pant would have been a strong contender, but a car crash setback delayed his prospects. Shubman Gill, with his immense talent, emerges as a potential option, yet he hasn’t been tested extensively on overseas tours. Another name in the mix is Jasprit Bumrah, who showcased his leadership skills in the one-off Test at Edgbaston. However, his recent back surgery raises concerns about his ability to handle the workload of all three formats. Identifying a young deputy with the potential to become a long-term captain becomes crucial for India’s future, allowing Rohit Sharma to plan the final phase of his career in a manner that benefits the team.
Managing the Workloads of Bumrah and Shami
Jasprit Bumrah, the lethal pace bowler, still has several fruitful years ahead of him. However, his back troubles have resulted in a surgery that raises questions about his long-term fitness and ability to shoulder the workload of all three formats. With the ODI and T20 World Cups on the horizon, careful management of Bumrah becomes imperative. Understanding his intentions and preferences will allow India to optimize his contributions.
Mohammed Shami, known for his consistency, faces a similar challenge. At 32, his workload management becomes vital. While he remains an integral part of India’s bowling line-up for the upcoming World Cups, considering him as a Test specialist after those events may prolong his longevity in the format. Examples like James Anderson and Stuart Broad demonstrate that age does not necessarily hinder one’s ability to be a match-winner. However, clarity from the selectors and the BCCI about the desired role for Shami would allow him to plan accordingly.
The Middle-Order Conundrum: Pujara and Rahane
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, the steadfast duo, have faced constant scrutiny despite their match-winning performances. Both players have experienced being dropped during the previous WTC cycle but fought their way back into the team through sheer determination and runs. While their spots in the squad for the series in the West Indies seem secure, young talents in domestic cricket eagerly await their opportunities to shine in Tests.
Abhimanyu Easwaran, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sarfaraz Khan, Rajat Patidar, Tilak Varma, and Ruturaj Gaikwad are among the budding talents who have showcased immense potential for the longer format. However, these youngsters need time, opportunities, and the freedom to fail before India discovers its middle-order combination for the future.
The Spin Succession: Life Beyond Jadeja and Ashwin
R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the dynamic spin duo, have been instrumental in India’s success. However, concerns arise about their longevity in Test cricket due to various factors. Ashwin’s knee pain during the tour of Bangladesh raised doubts about his future, while Jadeja underwent knee surgery and expressed uncertainty about his ability to bowl long spells.
In the absence of these spin wizards, India’s spin-bowling options become limited. While Axar Patel has shown promise, India has yet to consistently deploy another spinner. Kuldeep Yadav, Saurabh Kumar, and Rahul Chahar have featured on the bench and India A tours, but their ability to carry India’s rich spin legacy forward in Tests remains untested.