Sports, Cricket

Rahul will lead India for SA ODIs

Published : 01 Jan 2022 08:05 PM | Updated : 03 Jan 2022 04:31 PM

Rohit Sharma has failed to recover from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Test series in South Africa. In his absence, KL Rahul will lead India in the three-match ODI series in South Africa. Jasprit Bumrah has been named the vice-captain of the squad.

This was supposed to be India’s first ODI assignment since Rohit was named full-time captain for the format, but Rohit's recurring hamstring injury has emerged as a bit of a concern. Chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma said the decision to not send Rohit to South Africa was taken keeping that frequent injury and important events in mind, including the T20 World Cup and the ODI World Cup in the coming two years.

“This is the only reason why we have decided to let him work on his rehab, work on his fitness, work on his muscles,” Chetan said. “Nobody gets injured on purpose. This is precisely why we didn’t send him to South Africa because we want him to go back to 100% fitness because there are important events and World Cups coming. That is the reason why he is not going to South Africa, and KL Rahul is the captain.”

India’s 18-man squad welcomed back R Ashwin, who last played an ODI in 2017 but made his comeback into the T20I side earlier in 2021. Venkatesh Iyer received a maiden ODI call-up. As with T20Is, Venkatesh might bat in the middle order and bowl a few overs, a vacancy created by Hardik Pandya's inability to bowl because of fitness issues.

The other allrounder in the squad is Washington Sundar, who missed the T20 World Cup with injury but proved his fitness in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy. Also coming back from injury was Shreyas Iyer, who has since made a successful Test debut too. The other potential allrounders, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, are yet to recover from injuries sustained during the Test series against New Zealand.

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That Rahul would lead in Rohit's absence was expected, seeing that he is the ODI vice-captain, but Chetan said that Rahul was being groomed as a future leader. “We are looking at KL Rahul as a three-format player, and he has got good experience of captaincy,” he said in an online press interaction. “He has proved his leadership qualities. That is what all selectors think. When Rohit is not fit, we thought KL is the best one to handle the side. We have good confidence in him, and we are grooming him.”

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