Legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar on Saturday said Rishabh Pant can be the ideal candidate to lead India in Test cricket following Virat Kohli’s decision to quit as captain. Kohli took the cricketer fraternity by surprise by coming up with an unforeseen decision to give up the captaincy of the senior national team in Tests on January 15.
Speaking to India Today Consulting Editor Rajdeep Sardesai, Sunil Gavaskar said he has been impressed with the way 24-year-old Rishabh Pant can shoulder the responsibility of being the Test captain, highlighting the success Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi took over as India’s captain at a very young age and went to achieve incredible success.
Virat Kohli on Saturday took to social media to announce his decision to quit Test captaincy. It came a day after India lost a 3-match Test series to South Africa in South Africa. Kohli brought an end to his 8-year tenure as Test captain during which he emerged as India’s most successful skipper in the longest fort of the game.
Rohit Sharma was recently appointed as the vice-captain of India’s Test team but he was not part of the recently-concluded 3-match series in South Africa. Rohit took over after Ajinkya Rahane was sacked from the role over dip in form.
In Rohit’s absence, KL Rahul was Kohli’s deputy in South Africa and the Karnataka batter even captained India in the 2nd Test in Johannesburg when Kohli missed out due to a back spasm.
Pant has never led the senior national team but Gavaskar believes that he is an automatic pick across all three formats and the selectors will be looking for someone of his calibre to lead the Test team.
“It’s going to be quite a debate as far as the selection committee is concerned as to who should be taking Indian cricket forward. First of all, it should be someone who is an automatic pick across all formats of the game. Once that happens, it will be a lot easier,” Gavaskar said.
“If you ask me, I am still staying, I would look at Rishabh Pant as next India captain.
“For one reason only, just like Rohit Sharma was given the captaincy of Mumbai Indians when Ricky Ponting stepped down, look at the change in his batting after that. Suddenly the responsibility of being captain made him convert those beautiful cameos of 30s, 40s and 50s into hundreds, 150s and 200s.
“I think that sense of responsibility given to Rishabh Pant will help him score many more of that wonderful hundred he scored at Newlands,” he added.
WHY RISHABH PANT?
Gavaskar explained why the burden of captaincy can be handled by someone as young as Pant in Test cricket.
“Yes, I am saying that. Tiger Pataudi was captain at the age of 21 under adverse circumstances when Nari Contractor was injured. Look what he did after that. He took to captaincy like duck to water. I think what we have seen with Rishabh Pant as the captain of Delhi Capitals in the IPL, I do believe he has the capability of taking Indian cricket forward and making it a very exciting team to watch,” he added.
Virat Kohli took over from MS Dhoni as India’s Test captain midway during a Test series in 2014-15 after the latter retired from the longest format of the game. Kohli helped India regain the No. 1 spot in ICC Test rankings and reach the final of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship in 2021.
Under Kohli, India never lost a Test series at home and won their first-ever Test series in Australia.
However, Kohli’s form has been under the scanner over the last two years. The India captain, who hit a valiant 79 in the Cape Town Test, hasn’t scored an international hundred since November 2019.