New Delhi: Rohit Sharma, who has been languishing in quarantine since his arrival in Australia, has been picked as vice-captain of the Indian team for the last two Tests.
Rohit has not played any competitive cricket since leading Mumbai Indians to title victory in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in early November; he had arrived in Australia in mid-December and had been under quarantine for the past two weeks in Sydney.
He will be 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.
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.
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.