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‘It will be tough to ignore split captaincy calls if Rohit does well,’ says Shoaib Akhtar

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Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar feels Rohit Sharma leading the Indian Test team against Australia in Virat Kohli’s absence is a no-brainer, and the-much awaited series will be his “best chance” to stake claim for captaincy in one of the limited-overs formats.

Calls have been growing for spilt captaincy in the Indian team since Rohit led Mumbai Indians to a fifth title in the IPL. Rohit has also led India to an Asia Cup title in Kohli’s absence.

Though Ajinkya Rahane is the vice-captain on paper, Akhtar sees Rohit taking over leadership duties from Kohli following the first Test at the Adelaide Oval. The India skipper will be returning home after the series-opener to attend the birth of his first child.

Speaking to PTI, Akhtar said: “My take on it is pretty simple. From what I know Virat is very keen to take the team forward. It all depends on how fatigued he is feeling. He has been playing non-stop since 2010, has got 70 centuries and a mountain of runs under his belt.”

“If he is feeling fatigued, then he should think about giving the leadership role to Rohit in one of the formats (preferably T20s).

“I could see the boredom on his face during the IPL, may be it was because of the bio-bubble situation, he seemed a bit stressed out. It all depends on how he feels. Rohit has been ready for captaincy for a while.”

The series will also be Rohit’s first in overseas conditions as an opener and he faces a tough task in facing the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

“Rohit is one of the greatest batsmen India has produced. Now he also understands the real value of his talent.

Best chance

“Australia will be his best chance to prove himself as captain. He should grab it with both hands. He has the talent and ability to lead the team. It will be a tough test for India and I would look for these kind of situations as a player.

“The whole world would be looking at Rohit as captain and batsman. If he does well for himself and the team, then there should be a debate about split captaincy.”

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