India’s T20I captain, Hardik Pandya, faces uncertainty for the upcoming five-match series against Australia, commencing on November 23, due to a left ankle ligament tear.
The announcement of the T20I series team will be delayed until after India’s World Cup semifinal, likely on November 15 in Mumbai. Sources from the BCCI suggest a practical approach, aiming for Hardik’s fitness by the South Africa T20 series starting December 10 in Durban.
The decision on Hardik’s availability rests with the NCA Sports Science team, who may opt for a ‘Return To Play’ (RTP) during the SA series, as per a senior BCCI source.
In Hardik’s absence, either Suryakumar Yadav, designated vice-captain of the T20I side, or Asian Games gold-winning skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad is expected to lead. Suryakumar, currently participating in the ODI World Cup, emerges as a preferred choice, given the need to keep seniors like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and the Test series pace unit fresh. The Mumbai Indians star is recognized as a two-format white-ball specialist.
Considering the norm for white-ball Indian specialists to play 25-30 games per year across two formats, excluding IPL, Suryakumar remains a frontrunner for captaincy unless he opts for rest. In that case, Ruturaj becomes the alternative choice.
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