'Rohit Sharma not ruled out yet, we still have 36 hours to go': Rahul Dravid's big update on India captain
Rohit Sharma hasn't tested negative yet but India head coach Rahul Dravid is willing to wait till Thursday evening before deciding on the final eleven for the one-off Test at Edgbaston and a stand-in captain if needed. KL Rahul was the vice-captain for this game but since he is injured as well, India may name Jasprit Bumrah as captain for this Test, beginning Friday.
"Rohit is being monitored by our medical team, he has not yet been ruled out," head coach Rahul Dravid said in a virtual press conference on Wednesday. "Obviously, he needs to get the negative test to be available. So we will keep monitoring that, we've still got close to 36 hours to go. He will have a test later tonight and maybe one tomorrow morning as well. And then we'll see.
"Obviously, he'll have to come out of that, and it's really up to the medical team and sports science team to decide on that. We haven't had a chance to see him, since he is in isolation. But we will keep monitoring the situation. Everyone else is fit. Ash (Ashwin) had Covid but he pulled through really well. The medical team is happy with him. Once we get an update on Rohit, there will be an official communication in this regard."
Bumrah was the vice-captain during India's last home Test series against Sri Lanka in March. If he leads, Bumrah will become the first fast bowler to captain India since Kapil Dev. In that scenario, India will also have six different captains in 2022, their highest in any calendar year since 1959.
"It is what it is," said Dravid. "When I took the job even I wouldn't have predicted that there would be so many captains in the last six-seven months. That happens, right? In the times that we are living in, with Covid, there have been some unfortunate injuries to people. Even here, it is quite unfortunate what has happened to Rahul and Rohit in the last three weeks for us. And sometimes we've had to balance out the workloads of people. So it happens.
"Of course, it is not something you envisage when you first start off, but if a situation arises then you react to that, you deal with that. And in spite of the number of captains we have had, we have played very good cricket over the last six to eight months. Yes, obviously the South Africa Test series was probably the one I would have liked to have won after going one-up. But even there I thought we were not outplayed, we were very close in a lot of those games. We had a few unfortunate injuries and some of our main players were probably not available for that Test series.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that we don't have to deal with these situations, but they seem to come up and we have to react. We are not fazed by it. We are clear about our communication with people. We know what is going to happen over the next few days. If something happens, we have got contingency plans and, within our group, within our team, we know what's happening. That's really important for us."
If Sharma is fit, then he could open with Mayank Agarwal who has been flown in as cover. Agarwal was first-choice opener during the England tour last year but a concussion before the opening Test paved the way for Rahul - who aggregated 315 runs in eight innings - to open. Shubman Gill too is waiting on the sidelines. If Sharma doesn't test negative, Gill's chances of opening becomes more likely but his technique against lateral movement could come under heavy scrutiny. Apart from Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and KS Bharat too could be drafted to open the batting.
"We will make a decision," said Dravid. "We will wait (on Rohit). We have other options. Mayank is our regular opener. Bharat has opened for Andhra. Pujara has opened for India. I don’t want to give anything away but we have clarity."
"It's always a discussion involving the players. It's not very different, batting at No 3 and opening. You are not pushed or forced to do it. It’s an opportunity to do a larger good. As players you are expected to do things that are more team centric."