Jasprit Bumrah will lead India in Edgbaston’s Test against England from Friday after Rohit Sharma tested positive for Covid-19 again. For Bumrah, it will be a first stint as captain at any level of representative cricket as he becomes the first fast bowler to captain India since Kapil Dev, whose last game as Indian captain was a ODI against England in Mumbai in November 1987.
Bumrah will be India’s second captain in the Pataudi Trophy, which India leads 2-1, after Virat Kohli was in charge of the first four games, before the final test was postponed following a Covid-19 outbreak in Indian camp. .
“It’s a very big honour. It’s a very big achievement,” Bumrah said. “We also did a test today morning. Rohit tested positive. Then I was officially informed that I was going to lead the team.”
Along with Rohit, India’s top run-getter in those four games, Bumrah was a great performer, collecting 18 wickets in seven bowling innings averaging 20.83. A year later, Bumrah has more experience and was also named India vice-captain for their previous Test streak, at home in March against Sri Lanka. Bumrah had then said that he would not hesitate if the opportunity to lead India presented itself to him. It happened, perhaps sooner – and in somewhat unfortunate circumstances – than he would have expected or intended.
India head coach Rahul Dravid had stressed on Wednesday that India were ready to wait as long as possible before taking a final call on Rohit’s availability. India’s hand was forced once Rohit tested positive again today.
Rohit’s absence will hurt India in more ways than one. Apart from their leadership, India also lost their best hitter from the first four Tests, where his 368 runs were only behind Joe Root’s 564 in the overall count
. Rohit, who picked up the Player of the Match award in victory in The Oval Test, scored his points at an average of 52.57 with a century and two half centuries. Rahul [315 runs] and he gave India solid opening platforms in most cases, with Rohit not only adapting well to the seam conditions but also playing with the intention of scoring big.
Question marks over Rohit’s participation in the game surfaced as soon as he tested positive for Covid-19 on matchday two of India’s warm-up match at Leicester last week. After serving five days in isolation, Rohit returned positive tests twice on Wednesday and again on Thursday morning, about 24 hours before the test.
India has been experiencing some instability with its captaincy lately. Since Kohli stepped down as test captain in January this year, Rohit and KL Rahul were in line to lead the format, but both are unavailable – Rahul, due to a sports hernia which was operated on this week. Along the way, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya have also led white ball games, all in the past month.
R Ashwin had also tested positive for Covid when the team left India, but he joined the tour a few days later in Leicester after completing his isolation, and played in the second leg of the tour match, taking two wickets in his 11 overs.
With Rohit unavailable now, it remains to be seen who will open for India. As cover for Rohit, Mayank Agarwal was flown earlier this week and is available for test selection as he is not required to quarantine upon arrival as per the latest travel advisory.