‘If selectors have moved on from Rohit, Kohli, Rahul…’: Gambhir's pointed remark on Pandya as permanent captain
Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has replaced KL Rahul as Rohit Sharma's deputy in the white-ball formats. Pandya guided Team India to a thrilling win over Sri Lanka in the 2nd T20I on Tuesday.
Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has expressed his reservations about Hardik Pandya replacing Rohit Sharma as India's next full-time captain in white-ball cricket. Fresh from a path-breaking 2022 season in competitive cricket, all-rounder Pandya guided Rohit-less Team India to a thrilling win over Sri Lanka in their first international game of 2023 on Tuesday. Pandya-led India upstaged Sri Lanka by 2 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series.
Pandya has been tasked to lead the host nation in the absence of the seasoned campaigners as captain Rohit, ex-skipper Virat Kohli, and senior batter Rahul are rested for the T20I series. Speaking about Pandya's captaincy ascension ahead of the 1st T20I against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, former Indian opener Gambhir was asked whether the star all-rounder has become the leading candidate to replace Rohit as India's next captain across formats.
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“We have to wait and watch. If actually selectors have moved on from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, then probably yes. When Rohit comes back, it's gonna be difficult for someone like Hardik to replace him as captain because judging him by just one ICC tournament, it's not the right parameter. If selectors have already communicated to Virat, KL Rahul and Rohit, and all those guys. If there's clear communication, they have moved on from them. Then probably Hardik is the only guy at the moment because he is the only one who actually fits in that playing XI. And then you got Suryakumar as his deputy. So I think, that's going to be the way forward,” Gambhir told Star Sports.
Pandya, who became the latest addition to the leadership group of the Rahul Dravid-coached side in 2022, has been appointed as the vice-captain of the Asian giants in the limited-overs format. Pandya has replaced opener KL Rahul for the designated leadership role in the limited-overs format. The white-ball maverick will remain Rohit's deputy in the build-up to the ICC World Cup 2023.
“He has been absolutely brilliant. Since he has come out of that controversy. Since he has taken over as captain of Gujarat Titans (GT), he has won the IPL. He has done everything possible that was asked of him, from the Indian cricket point of view. Looking at the World Cup as well, I think the semi-final when it came to that crunch game, where India was under pressure (62/2 in 10 overs). And then playing that kind of a blinder. I think he has that X-factor. Hopefully, he can try and give that X-factor or courage to other guys as well. This is a very young side, they are fearless, and that is what you want to see in T20I cricket,” Gambhir added.