Indian Cricket team captain: An institution can’t perform until it is not stable. One way to gauge its stability is checking the quality of leadership. If there is too much chopping and changing at the top, it reflects in the decrement of quality. If you apply this filter to the Indian T20 team, the reasons for its disastrous show in recent tournaments will become clear.
Hardik Pandya to lead in the absence of mavericks
Selectors have announced India’s T20 team for Sri Lanka series. While the ODI team has its fair share of big changes, it is the T20 team which became talk of the town. More so for the change in leadership. Hardik Pandya will be leading the team in the absence of mavericks like Rohit Sharma, K L Rahul and Virat Kohli.
While Kohli does not entertain any thoughts of captaincy, both Rahul and Sharma have captained India in the last few months. Rahul has been Sharma’s deputy after Kohli rescinded the controversial captaincy post. If both are playing, Sharma captains the team in all formats while Rahul is vice-captain.
Somehow, both of them do not always play every format. They keep Test and ODI on pedestal and in return, T20 becomes a casual casualty of the tight schedule. Resultantly, Indian Cricket team has been hunting for a stable T20 captain. Along with that, the hunt for Rohit’s replacement after the 2023 ODI World Cup is also going on.
Dhawan was ousted as player and returned as captain
For that, the BCCI has tried and tested every player who is even remotely considered a consistent part of team India. K L Rahul being vice-Indian Cricket team captain has proved to be more promising than others in the past. Even when Kohli was captained, Rahul had captained India’s T20 team against New Zealand in 2020. He has also captained India in Tests, more recently against Bangladesh. The problem is that, the load seems to have gotten better of him as his form has suffered quite a lot.
In fact, the problem has grown a lot in the last 1 year. Rahul has been in and out of the team due to injury. Same has been the case with Rohit. In their absence, selectors have tried a plethora of options including Shikhar Dhawan as well. Dhawan was out of the team and suddenly he was selected to play against the West Indies as Captain. Astoundingly, his deputy in that series was Shreyas Iyer, another man who has not been able to cement his place in the squad.
A month before that, selectors had tried a similar stunt with Rishab Pant. His stats do not guarantee him a place in the T20 team, but he was made Indian Cricket team captain on the eve of the all-important series against South Africa. It took 2 consecutive international losses for Pant to regroup the team and comeback strong. The captaincy put further strain on his form as his batting remained a cause for concern.
It is not that the BCCI is only looking for a batsman captain. It has adjusted with the changing times as well. At the time when Pat Cummins, Tim Southee and Ben Stokes (all-rounder) were emerging as captaincy material, the BCCI did try to groom Bhubaneswar for the same. In June 2021, he was Indian Vice-captain for the series against Sri Lanka. But, BCCI did not find him a viable option and repeated it again only when the opposition was Ireland, a team ranked way below India.
They seem to be looking at Bumrah for that role. He was vice-captain of Indian Cricket team during the second test of the 2021-22 test series against South Africa (Rahul was injured). Later, he was named as Vice-captain for the ODI series. In July this year, he led the Indian team against England for the fifth test. However, his injury has been a big concern regarding handing over the captaincy.
Ego clash is inevitable
Frankly, it has been tough to keep a tab on the list. Probable contenders include newbie Ishan Kishan as well as old war-horses like R Ashwin. No one knows who the BCCI will zero down on. But one thing is certain that if leadership keeps changing like this, the crisis will lead to division and power struggle in the team.
There may be a time when all 11 players in a match will be inclined towards imposing their authorities.
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