India’s stand-in captain Jasprit Bumrah is relishing the challenge of being in “deep water” against revitalised England.
Bumrah has replaced regular skipper Rohit Sharma for the long-delayed fifth Test at Edgbaston after the opener was ruled out yesterday with a bout of Covid-19.
The fast bowler has been preferred as captain to Virat Kohli, even though the former India skipper is in the squad. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has been named as Bumrah’s vice-captain at Edgbaston.
Today’s match should have been played in Manchester last September only to be postponed just hours before the scheduled start because of coronavirus concerns within the India camp.
India lead the five-match series 2-1 but now face a much-changed and more formidable England side.
Inspired by the new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and red-ball coach Brendon McCullum, England pick up the 2021 series against India on the back of a 3-0 clean sweep of Test world champions New Zealand.
It is a daunting test for rookie skipper Bumrah, but the 28-year-old is ready for the responsibility.
“You play cricket for responsibility,” Bumrah told reporters at Edgbaston yesterday. “When there is pressure the taste of success feels good. I’m always up for more responsibility. I love tough challenges and this is no different. You want to challenge yourself in deep water. I spoke to MS (Dhoni) – he was straight away captain of India, had never captained anyone else, and was one of the most successful ever. I am only focused on how I can help the team, not what I have done before, how cricket conventions work or how the rules are set.”
McCullum said last week England’s performances against the Black Caps would “set alarm bells” off across the world. But Bumrah, the leading bowler in last year’s first four matches in the series with 18 wickets, refused to engage in a war of words with the former New Zealand captain.
“We try to focus on our team more than the other team,” said Bumrah, a veteran of 29 Tests. “I don’t want to give a
mental advantage. We don’t play to lose, to just compete or to draw. We play to win,” said Bumrah.
Mayank Agarwal has joined the squad as cover for Rohit but India have yet to decide who will be Shubman Gill’s opening partner in Rohit’s absence.
Coach Rahul Dravid has said they have two more options in stumper-batsman KS Bharat and top order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara.
India are 2-1 up in the series which could not be completed last year because of Covid-19 cases in the India camp ahead of the final match at Old Trafford.
India are bidding for a first Test series win in England since 2007 and just their fourth in total to set alongside successes in 1971 and 1986.
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