KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav have been ruled out of the five-match T20I series against South Africa due to injuries.
Rishabh Pant has been named the captain of the Indian cricket team in Rahul’s absence while Hardik Pandya who recently led Gujarat Titans to the IPL title has been named Pant’s deputy. The selection committee has not named any replacements for the duo.
Rahul, who was named the stand-in captain for the series last month in the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma is said to have picked up a groin injury. Meanwhile, Kuldeep Yadav has been hit on the right hand while batting in the nets.
It is understood that Rahul’s groin trouble has been a recurrent issue with the same injury ruling him out of the Sri Lanka series earlier this year. The Karnataka batter reportedly went for scans even during the IPL but was declared fit to play.
Meanwhile, this will be the first time Rishabh Pant will captain at the international level. Pant has previously captained his franchise Delhi in IPL for 30 games, winning 17 while losing 13.
"It's a great feeling, especially getting an opportunity like this in your hometown,” Pant said ahead of the first T20 international against South Africa at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
The wicket-keeper batsman sounded confident about the new responsibility with prior experience of leading a team in the IPL.
"I think it (captaining Delhi in IPL) will help me a lot because when you keep doing the same thing over a period of time, you tend to improve. I am someone who keeps on learning from my mistakes and that's something which is going to help me in the coming days as well,” Pant said in the pre-match press conference.
India will take on South Africa in the first of the five-match T20 International series on Thursday.