All-rounder Hardik Pandya will, in all likelihood, lead India in the upcoming T20I series against Sri Lanka, scheduled to start from January 3 in Mumbai, according to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sources. The second and third matches of the series will be held in Pune (January 5) and Rajkot (January 7).
It is understood that Rohit Sharma’s thumb injury might take some more time to heal. However, there is no clarity whether he (Rohit) will step down from the T20 captaincy or the matter put on hold for the time being.
While it has been clear since India’s T20 World Cup 2022 semi-final exit in Australia that there will be a change in guard once the new selection committee takes over, there has been no formal announcement yet. Also despite speculation, it can be confirmed that there was no discussion on India’s T20 captaincy in the Apex Council meeting.
“The matter wasn’t even on the Apex Council agenda and it wasn’t discussed on the forum. Only the selection committee can take a call on captaincy,” a BCCI official privy to development told news agency PTI on the condition of anonymity.
However, India’s T20 structure could be totally revamped and all-rounder Hardik, who has shown his leadership acumen for the Gujarat Titans, is considered an ideal replacement. While Rohit has had a thumb dislocation plus webbing injury, he will be rushing to get fit for the Sri Lanka series.
There are only six T20Is in a year where ODIs will get preference due to the 50-over World Cup and, with Rohit not in the scheme for the T20 World Cup in 2024, it is only imperative that he might skip the T20Is unless he decides on quitting the format altogether. A BCCI old guard, who has been an office-bearer, had a suggestion for President Roger Binny and Secretary Jay Shah.
“The first T20I is at the Wankhede, which is Rohit’s home ground. Why don’t the selectors and the BCCI secretary (Shah) give him a farewell T20 match and there is a graceful changeover of the leadership baton?” he suggested.
However, in the case of ODIs, Hardik’s fitness and workload management will be scrutinised before he is thrown into the deep end.
(with PTI inputs)