Gambhir picks Hardik, Shaw as India’s future captaincy candidates

“Prithvi Shaw is one I feel can be a very aggressive captain, a very successful captain because you see that aggression in the way a person plays the sport”

Hardik Pandya is all smiles after India won the three-match series 1-0, New Zealand vs India, 3rd T20I, Napier, November 22, 2022

Hardik Pandya recently led India to 1-0 T20I series win in New Zealand  •  Getty Images

Prithvi Shaw could be a future India captaincy candidate, according to former India batter Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir also picked Hardik Pandya, who has already led India in T20Is, as a future India captain, but Shaw was a more left-field choice as he has not played for India since July 2021.

Hardik has been touted as a possible successor to Rohit Sharma, at least in T20Is, following India’s semi-final exit at the T20 World Cup last month. Over time, he has racked up some captaincy experience too. In May, he captained debutants Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL crown and then led India for the first time in T20Is on a tour of Ireland for a 2-0 series win. More recently, he led India to a 1-0 series win in the T20Is in New Zealand, in the absence of senior players such as Rohit, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.

“Hardik Pandya obviously is in line,” Gambhir said at an event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on Sunday. “But that’s going to be unfortunate for Rohit because I think judging his captaincy in only one ICC event is not the right way to probably judge him.”

The other pick, Shaw, has struggled to find a regular place even in India’s second-string squads over the past year, and Gambhir didn’t specify in which format he saw Shaw as a potential captaincy candidate. Over the course of his short career, Shaw has had to cope with more than just a loss of form. Ever since he was suspended for a doping violation in 2019, his fitness and lifestyle issues have been under scrutiny.

In March this year, Shaw was reported to have failed a yo-yo test. His score of less than 15 was far from BCCI’s prescribed minimum score of 16.5 for men.

Having made his Test debut in 2018, the same year he led India to Under-19 World Cup glory in New Zealand, Shaw has managed to play just four more Tests. Shaw’s limited-overs appearances have been sporadic, too. He last played for India in July 2021, when he was part of a second-string squad that toured Sri Lanka for three ODIs and as many T20Is.

“The reason I’ve picked Prithvi Shaw, I know a lot of people talk about his off-field activities, but that is what the job of the coach and the selectors are,” Gambhir said. “The selectors’ job isn’t just to pick the 15, but also to get people walk the right path.

“Prithvi Shaw is one I feel can be a very aggressive captain, a very successful captain because you see that aggression in the way a person plays the sport.”

Shaw’s recent appearances have come for Mumbai in the domestic circuit, where he was the second-highest run-scorer at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s. His 332 runs came in 10 innings at a strike rate of 181.42, and included a career-best 61-ball 134 against Assam.

His form in the 50-over competition, the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, was patchy, with his only two half-centuries coming against inexperienced Mizoram and Railways. Overall, he managed just 217 runs in seven innings at an average of 31. He was shaded by fellow top-order batter Yashasvi Jaiswal, who made 396 runs in six innings to top the run charts for Mumbai, who exited in the pre-quarter-finals.

Over time, Shaw has racked up some captaincy experience with Mumbai, apart from captaining India Under-19. At the junior level, he led a batch of players, many of whom are regulars in the IPL currently.

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