India captain Rohit Sharma is battling against the deadline to be available for the Edgbaston Test against England after testing positive for Covid-19 once again on Wednesday morning. ESPNcricinfo has learned that Rohit will undergo two further tests - one this evening and another on Thursday - before the Indian team management takes a final decision on his availability for the Test, which starts on Friday. Should Rohit miss the Test, Jasprit Bumrah will captain the side.
Rohit, who tested positive on the second day of the warm-up match in Leicester last week, has been serving the five-day isolation as recommended by the UK government. Today was the fifth day, but Rohit was absent from India's training session.
"Rohit is being monitored by our medical team, he is not yet been ruled out," head coach Rahul Dravid said. "Obviously, he needs to get the negative test to be available. So we will keep monitoring that, we've still got close to 36 hours to go. He will have a test later tonight and maybe one tomorrow morning as well. And then we'll see.
"Obviously, he'll have to come out of that, and it's really up to the medical team and sports science team to decide on that. We haven't had a chance to see him, since he is in isolation. But we will keep monitoring the situation."
While there has been no official update from the BCCI on who will lead India in case Rohit doesn't play in the Test, it is understood that Bumrah will take up the role. India didn't nominate a vice-captain after KL Rahul, who was named Rohit's deputy when the squad was picked in May, was ruled out having picked up a groin injury earlier this month.
Bumrah was the vice-captain during India's previous Test series, against Sri Lanka at home. He incidentally has never led in any form of cricket, so this will be his maiden captaincy stint. He will also become the first fast bowler to captain India since Kapil Dev.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Sri Lanka series, Bumrah had said he would never "shy away" if he was given the opportunity to lead India. "If given an opportunity at any scenario, it would be an honour and I would never ever shy away from that, but it is something that I don't go looking for," Bumrah had said. Despite the lack of captaincy experience, Bumrah had said he remained confident of performing the leadership duties as he had grown in his role as a strike bowler both for India and at Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
"Whatever role is asked of me, I would do it with the best ability. You are always a leader when you are a senior member of the team, so it's just a post that comes with you. Basically, you try to help all the people in whatever capacity you can. Even in Mumbai Indians, you have got a lot of senior players but now I am one of the senior players as well, so you help the captain, you help everyone, you play the leadership role even when you are not asked to.
"That's how I look at it. I never want to [be the captain] just for personal satisfaction. It's just a post, it's just a name, you have to do your job and you have to help people in the best way you can."
'We have got contingency plans' - Dravid on captaincy scenario
If Bumrah walks out for the toss on Friday, he will be the eighth man to lead India since 2021. While Dravid agreed that is not the desired scenario, he felt that the coaching staff and players were well-equipped to handle that challenge.
"It is what it is," Dravid said. "When I took the job even I wouldn't have predicted that there would have so many captains in the last six-seven months. That happens, right? In the times that we are living in, with Covid, there have been some unfortunate injuries to people. Even here, it is quite unfortunate what has happened to Rahul and Rohit in the last three weeks for us. And sometimes we've had to balance out the workloads of people. So it happens.
"Of course, it is not something you envisage when you first start off, but if a situation arises then you react to that, you deal with that. And in spite of the number of captains we have had, we have played very good cricket over the last six to eight months. Yes, obviously the South Africa Test series was probably the one I would have liked to have won after going one-up. But even there I thought we were not outplayed, we were very close in a lot of those games. We had a few unfortunate injuries and some of our main players were probably not available for that Test series.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that we don't have to deal with these situations, but they seem to come up and we have to react. We are not fazed by it. We are clear about our communication with people. We know what is going to happen over the next few days. If something happens, we have got contingency plans and, within our group, within our team, we know what's happening. That's really important for us."