KL Rahul ruled out of SA series; Pant named captain
India's stand-in captain KL Rahul has been ruled out of the impending T20I series against South Africa due to an injury. Wicket-keeper-batter Rishabh Pant will lead Team India in Rahul's absence, while Hardik Pandya has been named the vice-captain. Besides, spinner Kuldeep Yadav will also miss the series. The news comes a day ahead of the series opener, scheduled to be held in Delhi.
NEWS 🚨- KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav ruled out of #INDvSA series owing to injury.— BCCI (@BCCI) June 8, 2022
The All-India Senior Selection Committee has named wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant as Captain and Hardik Pandya as vice-captain for the home series against South Africa @Paytm #INDvSA
The BCCI had announced the T20I squad for the South Africa series last month. KL Rahul was supposed to lead India in the absence of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Other senior members R Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah have also been rested. Meanwhile, Pant was named the vice-captain of the T20I side. He will spearhead the Indian team on June 9.
As per the BCCI, Rahul has been ruled out after suffering a right groin injury. Meanwhile, Kuldeep sustained a blow on his right hand while batting in the nets. It is to note that the selection committee has not announced any replacement for the duo. A medical team will assess both Rahul and Kuldeep at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
India's squad for SA T20I series: Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper and captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Venkatesh Iyer, Y Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, and Umran Malik.
While Rahul will miss the series, the nature of his injury is unknown. Notably, India will be without their top three (Rahul, Rohit, and Kohli) in the five-match series. Youngsters Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, and Venkatesh Iyer would have to step up without the senior members. Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik, Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel, and Deepak Hooda are the options for the middle order.
Rishabh Pant will lead for the first time in international cricket. India's mainstay batter across formats, Pant has the required experience of leading a side. He is the captain of Delhi Capitals (DC) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Under him, the Capitals have won 16 of 30 matches (one Super-Over finish). Pant led DC to Qualifier 2 in the 2021 season.