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South Africa Tour: Will BCCI be able to convince Rohit to captain in T20s? Bumrah, Iyer to be back for Tests

The BCCI brass will like to convince Rohit Sharma to lead the India team in T20 format despite his reluctance after the 2022 World T20 semi-final exit as the board announces the three squads for the South Africa assignment here on Thursday. The BCCI’s secretary and convenor of selection committee Jay Shah will meet chairman of panel Ajit Agarkar in the national capital to discuss the squads as well as prepare a roadmap for the next big-ticket event — the T20 World Cup.

With regular T20 skipper Hardik Pandya out for another month post an ankle ligament tear during the recently-concluded ODI World Cup, the choice is between entrusting Suryakumar Yadav with the responsibility or trust Rohit’s leadership skills which earned worldwide praise in the last seven weeks.

It must be mentioned that Rohit had earlier said that he doesn’t want to play the T20 format but the manner in which he led the side in the ODI World Cup has convinced the BCCI that he should continue in white-ball till the T20 World Cup in the Americas in June-July.

“Yes, there remains a question what happens when Hardik comes back but in BCCI, they feel that if Rohit agrees to lead in T20Is, he will lead in the T20 World Cup. In case Rohit doesn’t agree then Surya continues as captain for T20Is in South Africa,” a BCCI source privy to the development told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

Virat Kohli it must be mentioned has sought a break from white-ball games in South Africa.

As far as Kohli is concerned, everything will depend on how he plays in IPL and ditto for KL Rahul, who will only play T20Is if he dons the role of a keeper-batter for Lucknow Super Giants in the coming season. The second question is of workload management as India play six white-ball matches in 11 days — with three 50-over games in five days. The Test series will then start in five days’ time on December 26.

“The BCCI has always given preference to that particular white ball format which has a global tournament in next six months. ODIs post World Cup is third priority and three ODIs is a lot.

“Hence if Rohit leads in T20Is, he might take rest to freshen up for Tests. It will be decided by sports science team,” the source said.

No surprises in Test team
The duo of Rahul and Shreyas Iyer will be making a comeback into the Test squad after long injury lay-offs and hence, Ajinkya Rahane might get the axe while Cheteshwar Pujara has very little chance of making the cut as of now.

The only way Rahane can make it is if Rahul decides to keep wickets in Tests and Ishan Kishan becomes the second keeper, opening the doors for an extra batter in the squad. But at 35, whether Ajit Agarkar’s committee would like to look back is the question.

Rahul keeping wickets would mean that both him and Iyer can fit into the Test match playing XI.

Jasprit Bumrah is fighting fit and wants to continue playing Test cricket and will have Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur for company.

Mukesh Kumar, who has impressed one and all, is a strong contender for the reserve pacer’s slot.

Ravindra Jadeja, as usual, will be the first-choice spinner in overseas conditions while Ravichandran Ashwin and one among Axar Patel or Kuldeep Yadav will complete the spinner’s lineup.

Kona Bharat, who has been very disappointing with the bat, will only get a look-in if Rahul doesn’t want to keep wickets.

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