'Making Cheteshwar Pujara vice-captain is shocking': Kaif flabbergasted by Pant's removal from leadership role
Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif said he was 'shocked' to see Pujara as the vice-captain of India for the first Test against Bangladesh instead or Rishabh Pant.
The elevation of designated vice-captain KL Rahul to the captaincy for the first Test - and possibly the next one also - against Bangladesh, was a forced decision as regular captain Rohit Sharma was ruled out with an injury to his left thumb suffered during the second ODI a week ago. Rohit is currently in Mumbai nursing his dislocated thumb and is in a race against time to be ready for the second Test. Apart from this, there was another change in the leadership group, which was unforced and surprising. Cheteshwar Pujara was named as the vice-captain of the team and not Rishabh Pant.
Pant was India's vice-captain in England, the last time they played a Test match five months ago. Jasprit Bumrah was captaining India as Rohit was down with Covid and Rahul was unavailable due to an injury.
As Bumrah is again out with a back injury, everybody expected Pant to retain his vice-captaincy role, especially considering the fact that he has already led India in the shortest format against South Africa at home and is being groomed as a leader. On top of that, Test is one format where fielding an Indian XI without a fit Pant is almost unimaginable now, such has been his performance in red-ball cricket.
Former India cricketer Mohammed Kaif said he was 'shocked' to see Pujara as the vice-captain.
"It's a bit shocking for me because the last time we played Rishabh Pant was the vice-captain," Kaif said while replying to a Hindustan Times query in an interaction organised by Sony Sports Network ahead of the first India vs Bangladesh Test starting Wednesday.
Kaif said if Pujara was supposed to be considered for the vice-captaincy role then he should have been Bumrah's deputy the last time India played in England.
"Pujara was there in that team (in England) so either you have made a mistake here or back there in England. Someone has made a mistake. Why is there a rush? Why such a hurry to make Pant the captain? He's a newcomer finding his feet at the international level. He has won some fantastic matches I understand but he is still young. You don't make someone captain or vice-captain this early. Why this rush? I don't understand. Why can't someone just keep performing and keep winning matches? The priority should be to win matches for your team and not to be captain. We focus on players so much," Kaif added.
Apart from Rohit, India will also be without the likes of Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja. Both the senior cricketers were part of the ODI and Test squads but have failed to recover from their respective injuries. The selectors have added Abimanyu Easwaran, Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, and Jaydev Unadkat to the squad.
(Watch the LIVE coverage of Bangladesh vs India - 1st test on Sony Sports Ten 5 channels from 14th to 18th December at 9:00 am IST)