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Rohit Sharma replaces Pujara as vice-captain of Indian Test team

Rohit Sharma replaces Pujara as vice-captain of Indian Test team
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New Delhi: Senior opener Rohit Sharma was on Friday appointed the vice-captain of the Indian Test team for the first time in his career, replacing Cheteshwar Pujara, who was entrusted with the responsibility for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

After regular captain Virat Kohli went on paternity leave after the first Test in Adelaide, Pujara was named Ajinkya Rahane's deputy for the second match. However, it is learnt that the team management was always clear that once Rohit is fit and able to join the squad, he will be Rahane's deputy.

"There was never an iota of doubt about who will be India's vice-captain once Virat takes a break and Ajinkya is elevated. It was always going to be Rohit and Pujara was just a stop-gap arrangement till the former joined the squad," a senior official privy to the development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

"Rohit has been India's long-time white ball vice-captain, so it was only imperative that in Virat's absence, he will be a part of the team's leadership group," the official added.

Rohit completed his 14 days of hard quarantine in a Sydney apartment only a few days back and has joined the squad in Melbourne on Wednesday. He received a warm welcome from one and all.

It is still not clear whether Rohit will prefer opening the innings alongside Shubman Gill, with Mayank Agarwal being dropped from the playing eleven due to his prolonged bad patch, or bat in the middle-order in place of Hanuma Vihari, who looks like a certain casualty in terms of team combination.

Rohit has started training from Thursday and the full fledged session of the Indian contingent after new year break will start from Saturday.

Rohit has scored 2141 runs in 32 Tests at an average f 46 plus. He has six hundreds in his kitty with the best of 212 against South Africa in 2019.

The Indian team will be leaving for Sydney on January 5 for the New Year's Test which is scheduled to start on January 7.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu's yorker sensation Thangarasu Natarajan on Friday replaced injured pacer Umesh Yadav in the Indian Test team for the remaining two games against Australia, continuing his remarkable rise in international cricket.

Earlier, Shardul Thakur had replaced an injured Mohammed Shami in the squad before the second Test.

"Umesh Yadav sustained a strain in his left calf muscle on Day 3 of the second Border-Gavaskar Test in Melbourne...The fast bowler will not recover completely ahead of the remaining two Test matches and has been ruled out of the series," BCCI Secretary Jay Shah stated in a media release.

"The All-India Senior Selection Committee has named T Natarajan as Yadav's replacement. Ahead of the Boxing Day Test, Shardul Thakur was added to the Test squad as Mohd. Shami's replacement after the senior fast bowler suffered a hairline fracture in his right forearm," the release added.

Both Shami and Umesh Yadav will head to the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for further rehabilitation of their injuries.

The 29-year-old Natarajan had started off as a net bowler during the series and then subsequently made it to the T20 and ODI squads. He snared eight wickets (two ODI and six T20) during his four limited-overs appearances in national colours. He has played 20 first-class games for Tamil Nadu and will now be in contention for a slot in traditional format.

Earlier, fit-again top batsman Rohit Sharma completed his quarantine and joined the team in Melbourne.

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