‘Rahane and Pujara are big shoes to fill’: Rohit Sharma lauds axed India seniors; ‘They will be in our plans’

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Rohit Sharma is all set to become India’s 35th Test captain in the series opener against Sri Lanka, beginning Friday at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohaliƛ. A proven performer in white-ball cricket, Rohit, who has already taken over the mantle of white-ball captaincy from Virat Kohli, will flag off a new chapter of his career when he takes charge of the Test team as well. The start of his reign will also mark the beginning of a transition phase in Indian cricket.

It remains to see how Rohit handles the shift and manages a seamless transition after the departure of seniors Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. The batting pair was dropped following an inconsistent patch with the willow and youngsters like Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari are likely to be long term replacements of both the seasoned cricketers.

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But Rohit on Thursday said it will be a difficult task to fill the shoes of the two experienced campaigners. The team management will be scratching its head over their replacements and Rohit heaped praise on Pujara & Rahane for their contribution to the team’s success.

Rohit highlighted how Rahane and Pujara played a huge role in India becoming No. 1 in the longest format, further adding that they still are in the team’s “plans” for the future.

“Look, Rahane and Pujara are big shoes to fill, it will never be easy for whoever comes in, even I do not know who is going to come in for Rahane and Pujara honestly. Look, at what Pujara and Rahane have done for this team, you cannot put it out in words, all these years of hard work and playing 80-90 odd Tests, all those overseas Test wins. India getting to No.1 in Tests, these guys helped us in that situation and they have played a big part in that,” said Rohit said during a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“There is no way that these guys would not be looked upon in the future, they will be in our plans. Like the selector also said, it is just for now that we did not consider them. There is nothing written about them not being considered for the series later on,” he added.

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Apart from Pujara and Rahane, KL Rahul will also miss the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka. In Rahul’s absence, India might try out a fresh batting order, with the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill in the wings. But Rohit refrained from picking a single name when asked about his preferred opening partner.

“I am a captain, I’ll prefer everyone to be in the team. We will see and analyze everything and then we will take a call. Mayank, Shubman, Shreyas and Vihari, all are brilliant and they are the future of Indian cricket.”

“I think they need to be given a solid run for them to excel in this format and it is important for us to do that. It will start with the management showing enough support and backing so hopefully, these guys with enough backing, not just from me, but you guys, will also help,” Rohit further added.


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