Pacer Jasprit to lead India in the absence of COVID-hit Rohit Sharma at Edgbaston as visitors look to secure biggest Test series win in England
Jasprit Bumrah during India’s practice session at Edgbaston yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
After five days of suspense, India pacer Jasprit Bumrah was presented at the pre-match press conference as the skipper in place of the indisposed Rohit Sharma on Thursday here. Struck by Covid-19, Rohit could not recover in time for the fifth and final Test against England, beginning at Edgbaston today.
“Obviously, it’s a great honour to lead the country. When I was growing up, I wanted to just bowl fast and play for India. I never thought of becoming captain. But I don’t have an aversion to taking up new challenges. I see this as a fresh challenge and my aim is to contribute in a positive way and help the team perform at its optimum,” Bumrah said in his first interaction with the media as skipper.
Bumrah follows in the footsteps of bowling legend Kapil Dev, the last fast bowler to lead India in Tests. “It doesn’t matter whether the captain is a batsman, bowler or wicketkeeper. In his heart, he has a job to do to the best of his ability. I’m fairly confident that I have, with the support of the senior players and the coaching staff, the ability to lead the Indian team well,” he added.
WTC final boost
Leading 2-1 in the Covid-disrupted series, India are on the cusp of securing their biggest series win in England, having never won more than two matches in a series here. A 3-1 verdict in their favour will outstrip the Kapil Dev-led side’s 2-0 win in 1986. Secondly, India are placed third in the World Test Champions points table, behind Australia and South Africa, and a win or even a draw here will boost their chances of making it to next year’s WTC final.
This will also be a stern test for the new team management, headed by a new captain and head coach Rahul Dravid on their first overseas assignment. Besides the current challenge, India have an important four-match Test series at home against Australia coming up and followed by two matches in Bangladesh. In light of the upcoming assignments, this match at Edgbaston is an opportunity to draw the roadmap for the future.
Kohli, Pujara need big runs
It is also an opportunity for established batsmen like Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara to set the record straight by getting among the runs, while upcoming players like Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer can cement their places in the Test team. The batting may look a bit dodgy and unsettled due to the absence of Rohit Sharma and the injured KL Rahul, but on the bowling front, the likes of Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj are experienced enough to tame the rampaging English batsmen.
On whether India would pick Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin or both spinners, a smiling Burmah said: “Wait for tomorrow.” However, there is no doubt that the vistors will go in with five batsmen, five bowlers and a wicketkeeper.