New Delhi: Even as the selectors cleared the air surrounding who should be captaining the Indian team in ODIs, the debate rages on and former cricketer Ajay Jadeja has his own take. Although Virat Kohli is still his first choice to lead the pack, he thinks a youngster like Rishabh Pant could be Kohli’s deputy.

“I would make Rishabh Pant the vice-captain of the team simply because if he is the future…you are equating him to Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a player. That means he is going to be around for a long time and he can learn. These tours are to teach and learn (West Indies series),” Jadeja said during a promotional event at FICCI.

Rohit Sharma is currently the vice-captain of the Indian team. Reports of rift between Sharma and Kohli started emerging post India’s defeat to New Zealand in semi-finals  and many thought Sharma should be made the new skipper. Kohli, as a captain, has also been unsuccessful in major ICC tournaments like Champions trophy and World Cup.

Sharma’s five ton in the World Cup and him being the most successful captain in the IPL (Indian Premier League) also heavily weighted in favour of him. But Jadeja doesn’t see any point in passing the baton since Kohli already has three years of experience in captaincy.

“Wasn’t he (Rohit Sharma) around before Virat Kohli was made the captain three years ago? Now what has changed? After three years of captaincy Kohli has, now what has changed? You want a change because you want a change. You don’t want a change because if you are thinking you would have thought three years ago also. I think you should make somebody young the next vice-captain because you have Virat Kohli with three years of experience when he goes. Learn from what happened in the past, you got him from Dhoni. So if you want a baton to be passed on then make somebody who is going to be around for longer,” the former cricketer said.

Although he had an interesting take on M.S. Dhoni’s decision to leave out of the series against West Indies to serve in the Indian Army.

Asked if Dhoni should be considered for the middle-order in the future, Jadeja said, “I don’t know. I am only worried about, will he be considered as a normal person or as a man from armed forces. So, then I will have to be careful what I say…because you can’t have an opinion if Dhoni is an armed person. So, whatever he does is right. First you will have to tell me whether now we look at him as an armed forces man or as an Indian cricket team captain. If you say Indian cricket team captain, then I may have an opinion about him but if he is armed forces man then I will have to salute him.

“I don’t know whether he will be available. Say if Army needs him then how will he be there for the tournament? So, if that’s his first priority, and I respect him for that, that’s his call. I can only talk about it in cricketing way.”

India went to the World Cup without solving their perennial middle-order crisis and it got exposed in a knock out game when the top order failed to click. On being asked about the muddle, he explained, “Middle-order has always been a problem. The team that has won the World Cup also had a middle-order problem. If you equate the middle-order and the top order in the same numbers, it will always look like a problem. The World Cup winners had the same problem that our team had.”

New Zealand was no exception. Their over-reliance on Kane Williamson meant their bowlers saved the day on most occasions. They were on the money in the finals too but England somehow managed to cross the line and several critics and fan thought that the teams should have shared the cup.

Former cricketers too thought that the rules were obsolete and unfair to the team (New Zealand) who took more wickets. Jadeja too had his view. He said, “When you go and play a sport, there are laws and rules. They played within the rules. The question of fair play should have been raised when the rules were made. It should be discussed when the committee is sitting, whether it’s fair or not. They didn’t make that rule after they got a tie. Rules were made few years ago, who made that rule? If it is unfair then that thought is unfair…once you have decided to change rules, they will keep changing.”

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