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Rohit misses out with injury, Rahul takes charge as captain for South Africa ODIs

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Bumrah named vice-captain as most of the regulars who missed the Sri Lanka tour in July return

Rohit Sharma has failed to recover from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Test series in South Africa. In his absence, KL Rahul will lead India in the three-match ODI series in South Africa. Jasprit Bumrah has been named the vice-captain of the squad.
This was supposed to be India’s first ODI assignment since Rohit was named full-time captain for the format, but Rohit’s recurring hamstring injury has emerged as a bit of a concern. Chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma said the decision to not send Rohit to South Africa was taken keeping that frequent injury and important events in mind, including the T20 World Cup and the ODI World Cup in the coming two years.

“This is the only reason why we have decided to let him work on his rehab, work on his fitness, work on his muscles,” Chetan said. “Nobody gets injured on purpose. This is precisely why we didn’t send him to South Africa because we want him to go back to 100% fitness because there are important events and World Cups coming. That is the reason why he is not going to South Africa, and KL Rahul is the captain.”

India’s 18-man squad welcomed back R Ashwin, who last played an ODI in 2017 but made his comeback into the T20I side earlier in 2021. Venkatesh Iyer received a maiden ODI call-up. As with T20Is, Venkatesh might bat in the middle order and bowl a few overs, a vacancy created by Hardik Pandya’s inability to bowl because of fitness issues.
The other allrounder in the squad is Washington Sundar, who missed the T20 World Cup with injury but proved his fitness in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy. Also coming back from injury was Shreyas Iyer, who has since made a successful Test debut too. The other potential allrounders, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, are yet to recover from injuries sustained during the Test series against New Zealand.

That Rahul would lead in Rohit’s absence was expected, seeing that he is the ODI vice-captain, but Chetan said that Rahul was being groomed as a future leader. “We are looking at KL Rahul as a three-format player, and he has got good experience of captaincy,” he said in an online press interaction. “He has proved his leadership qualities. That is what all selectors think. When Rohit is not fit, we thought KL is the best one to handle the side. We have good confidence in him, and we are grooming him.”

From India’s last full-strength ODI squad that played England in March, the selectors omitted Kuldeep Yadav, the Pandya brothers Hardik and Krunal, T Natarajan (injured) and Shubman Gill. Deepak Chahar and Ishan Kishan found their way in.
Between the England series and this one, India played an ODI series in Sri Lanka too, but it was a second-string side because the main squad was in England to play the World Test Championship final and the Test series against England. Shikhar Dhawan captained that side in Sri Lanka and retained his place, but Prithvi Shaw didn’t. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was part of that squad but didn’t get to play, was retained for the South Africa series.

“He’s getting the chance at the right time,” Chetan said of Gaikwad. “He was picked in the T20s and now he’s in ODI squad. Wherever this is space for him, he’s getting picked and selectors are hoping he will do wonders for the country. We have selected him, now it’s up to the management when he plays in the XI and when he’s required in the combinations. He’s doing well and he’s been rewarded for that.”

On some of the major names missing, Chetan said, “Mohammed Shami, we are resting him looking at the load management of our faster bowlers. He will definitely be playing the coming series. Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, both are not fit, that’s the reason they are not in South Africa.”

Also discussed in the selection meeting, Chetan said, were Ravi Bishnoi, Rishi Dhawan, Shahrukh Khan, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan: “These guys will definitely get their chances in coming times.”

ODI squad: KL Rahul (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah (vice-capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj

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