New Delhi: Senior opener Rohit Sharma was on Friday appointed the vice-captain of the Indian Test team for the first time in his career, replacing Cheteshwar Pujara, who was entrusted with the responsibility for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
After regular captain Virat Kohli went on paternity leave after the first Test in Adelaide, Pujara was named Ajinkya Rahane''s deputy for the second match. However, it is learnt that the team management was always clear that once Rohit is fit and able to join the squad, he will be Rahane's deputy.
"There was never an iota of doubt about who will be India''s vice-captain once Virat takes a break and Ajinkya is elevated. It was always going to be Rohit and Pujara was just a stop-gap arrangement till the former joined the squad," a senior official privy to the development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
"Rohit has been India''s long-time white ball vice-captain, so it was only imperative that in Virat''s absence, he will be a part of the team''s leadership group," the official added.
Rohit completed his 14 days of hard quarantine in a Sydney apartment only a few days back and has joined the squad in Melbourne on Wednesday. He received a warm welcome from one and all.
It is still not clear whether Rohit will prefer opening the innings alongside Shubman Gill, with Mayank Agarwal being dropped from the playing eleven due to his prolonged bad patch, or bat in the middle-order in place of Hanuma Vihari, who looks like a certain casualty in terms of team combination.
Rohit has started training from Thursday and the full fledged session of the Indian contingent after new year break will start from Saturday.
Rohit has scored 2141 runs in 32 Tests at an average f 46 plus. He has six hundreds in his kitty with the best of 212 against South Africa in 2019.
The Indian team will be leaving for Sydney on 5 January for the New Year''s Test which is scheduled to start on 7 January.
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Siraj and his senior pace colleague Jasprit Bumrah faced racial abuse for two days at the Sydney Cricket Ground, forcing the Indian team management to lodge an official complaint with match referee David Boon. Cricket Australia later offered an unreserved apology for the incidents.
While fielding at the square-leg boundary during Sydney Test, Mohammed Siraj was allegedly called "monkey" and "brown dog" over two days by some spectators, who were removed by security guards after the matter was reported to the on-field umpires.
Pujara, whose dogged half-centuries (50, 77) in the third Test helped India draw the match, is placed eighth, just behind his stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who lost one place.