Team India opener KL Rahul has admitted that it would be a huge responsibility if the honor of leading the Test team is given to him. However, he stated that he is not thinking along those lines and is focused on the one-day series against South Africa for now.
The post of India’s Test captain became vacant after Virat Kohli quit following the Test series loss in South Africa. Rahul and Rohit Sharma are the top two contenders to take over the position, with wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant emerging as a dark horse.
At a virtual press conference ahead of the ODI series against the Proteas, Rahul was asked whether he has given any thought to leading the Indian Test team. The 29-year-old replied:
"I had not given it a thought till the names came out, till the articles or news have been doing the rounds. Obviously, I had the opportunity to lead the Test side in Johannesburg and it was really special. The result did not go as expected but it was a great learning experience for me and it would be something I will always be proud of."
On the possibility of being named the next Test captain, Rahul added:
"For any player to lead the country is a dream come true and something special, which you will cherish for a long time. I am no different. Yes, it would be a huge responsibility if given to me. It is something that is very exciting for me, I am not really looking forward to anything at this time. If it happens to come my way then I will try and do my best to carry Team India forward. But for now, I am focusing on the series which is ahead.”
Rahul will lead the team in the three-match one-day series against South Africa, which begins in Paarl on Wednesday. The elegant batter was named captain after Rohit failed to recover from a hamstring injury that also kept him out of the Test series.
“Very excited about Venkatesh Iyer” - KL Rahul
The South Africa ODIs could see young guns like Venkatesh Iyer and Ruturaj Gaikwad getting an opportunity to make their mark. Asked specifically about Iyer’s all-round skills, Rahul admitted:
"Yes, Venkatesh Iyer has been very exciting since he has played for KKR and done really well there and he joined us for the T20I series against New Zealand. He did really well there. Fast-bowling all-rounders are always an asset. We are always looking for fast-bowling all-rounders. They balance the team out really well. Very excited about Venkatesh Iyer. It is a great opportunity for him in South Africa and he is looking really good in the nets."
The skipper for the one-day series also hinted that India might play two spinners in Paarl, which will host the first two matches. Explaining that there seems to be some help for the slow bowlers, he said:
"Every venue is different. We have practiced a couple of days in Boland Park and the pitch does look like it might offer more for the spinners than what we got in the Test series. We have quality spinners, Ashwin’s coming back into the one-day team and we all know what quality he brings. Chahal has been doing it for years now and he has been a great performer for us. So, if there is any assistance from the pitch, these two will exploit it. Hopefully, in the first two games the pitch does look like it might offer a little bit of spin. So yeah, they become really important for us.”
While the first two games of the ODI series will be played at Boland Park in Paarl, the tour will conclude with the last match in Cape Town.