Dubai: Indian team are on the edge after skipper Rohit Sharma again tested positive for Covid-19, though coach Rahul Dravid tried to calm the nerves by saying the star batter is still not ruled out of the fifth and final Test, beginning at Headingley on Friday.
Earlier, reports in Indian media suggested the Rohit has been ruled out and Jasprit Bumrah has been named the captain.
Rohit's condition monitored
“Rohit is out of this Test match, starting July 1, as his RT-PCR test has come positive again. He is still in isolation. Jasprit Bumrah, who is one of the vice-captains in absence of KL Rahul, will lead the team,” PTI reported an unnamed senior BCCI official.
However, Dravid, addressing a virtual media conference, said on the contrary. “So the update on Rohit is that he is being monitored by our medical team, he is not yet been ruled out. Obviously, he needs to get the negative test to be available. We will keep monitoring him, we have still got close to 36 hours to go so he will have a test later tonight and one maybe tomorrow morning as well. We will see, it is really up to the medical team and sports science team to decide on that. We will keep monitoring,” the former Indian skipper said.
If Rohit Sharma fails to recover, Bumrah will become the first pacer after legendary Kapil Dev to lead the Indian Test team. However, it will not be an easy task against an England team that is playing a brand of aggressive cricket under the new management, led by skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
A lot has changed since India’s last visit to England, when the Men in Blue dominated the four Tests. Virat Kohli, who led India when the visitors dominated the series and hold a 2-1 lead in the five-match Tests, has relinquished his captaincy while Joe Root, who led England, has also quit his captaincy.
The Gujarat pacer, who has 123 wickets in 29 Tests, has been the main weapon for India in all the formats and the pacer is one of the few to play all the three formats of the game. Bumrah, one of the vice-captains of the team, will be the 36th cricketer to lead India in the longest-format since the country first played in 1932. The India pacer will join Australian Pat Cummins as only the second pacer to lead the country in world cricket today.
Rohit Shama’s absence coupled with the KL Rahul missing the series due to injury could add a big burden on the batting line-up against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Opener Mayank Agarwal, who flew in only a couple of days back, has a proven record, but he didn’t have enough time to acclimatise with the conditions.
Srikar Bharat, the reserve wicketkeeper, showcased his skills by scoring in both the innings against Leicestershire in lone tour game. If Bharat opening the second innings is any indication, then he could fit the bill after having played in the slot and the top of the order for his state.
England too have been hit by injuries and virus as ace pacer Anderson is yet to recover from the ankle injury while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes tested positive midway through the third Test against New Zealand, who has joined the squad in Birmingham.
Anderson has enjoyed England’s renaissance under Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum, with their winning run giving him extra incentive to return to the field.
Ankle getting better
“I hate missing games. After that game at Headingley the feeling around the group is so good you want to be around it as much as possible,” Anderson said on Wednesday.
“I certainly feel I’ve got more of a smile on my face in the field than I normally do. It’s so much fun playing with this group in the style we have been.
“It was disappointing to miss the last game, seeing the guys out on the field having a good time and playing well. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I can get back in this week.
“The ankle feels pretty good and I’ve got a couple of days of practice to get through. If I can do that, hopefully I’m good for Friday. We’ll see what happens.”
England trained at Edgbaston on Wednesday, preparing to resume a series that was halted last September when India, who hold a 2-1 lead, declined to play at Old Trafford due to concerns over a coronavirus outbreak.
Coach McCullum believes England’s aggressive performances against his native New Zealand have sent a warning to their rivals in Test cricket. McCullum’s first series as England’s red-ball head coach ended in a 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand.
It was a marked contrast to England’s woeful run of just one win in 17 Tests prior to the campaign against the Black Caps. England’s dynamic performances in the New Zealand series served as vindication of the fearless approach championed by their new leadership duo of McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.
“The world Test champions were a formidable opponent to overcome and the alarm bells have probably gone off somewhat around world cricket as to how this team is going to play,” said McCullum following England’s seven-wicket win at Headingley. “When Ben’s out there captaining he’s constantly making plays, which I think is great because it means at least we’re in control, regardless of what the scoreboard says.
“Then when he’s batting, he’s pushing the envelope as well, which is sending a message to not just our dressing room but to other dressing rooms around the world that this is how we’re going to play.
“Obviously you want to be the number one team in the world and you want to achieve the ultimate success, which is being world Test champions, winning the Ashes and beating the top teams consistently.
“That’s the end goal, but what we need to do first of all is enjoy what we’ve been able to achieve over the last three weeks and understand what we’ve achieved as well. Cherish it.”