Never before has he navigated the choppy waters of leadership, but Jasprit Bumrah will certainly like to showcase his captaincy acumen while leading a slightly under-prepared India against a vastly improved England in the rescheduled fifth Test, starting here on Friday.

India was leading the five-match series 2-1 when multiple COVID-19 cases in its camp led to the postponement of the final game which was a part of the World Test Championship.

Rohit misses out

Nine months have passed since and a lot of water has flown through the Thames with the then captain Virat Kohli relinquishing Test captaincy. His successor, Rohit Sharma, is missing out on this game after testing positive for COVID-19.

Worse, Rohit’s designated deputy K.L. Rahul is also out after having undergone a surgery for sports hernia.

In this backdrop of musical chair of Indian captaincy, the gauntlet has been thrown at Bumrah, arguably one of the finest fast bowlers in the history of Indian cricket and now set to be the 36th man to lead the national Test team.

READ: Rohit Sharma ruled out of Edgbaston Test, Bumrah to lead

He has been acknowledged widely as the undisputed leader of the fast bowling group but come Friday, the challenge against Ben Stokes’ side will be very different when he walks out for the toss at the Edgbaston.

The 3-0 demolition of New Zealand has shown that England, under new coach Brendon McCullum, has de-constructed its style-sheet as far as Tests are concerned.

The pitches have become a tad flatter, which is helping the batters and thus Bumrah, along with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will have an onerous task of tackling a batting line-up bubbling with confidence.

Joe Root has found his touch and Jonny Bairstow, with the confidence of IPL, has scored nearly 400 runs at a strike-rate of 120-plus, unheard of in Tests.

“England have done well as they won a couple of Test matches from positions where they could have potentially lost the games,” Indian coach Rahul Dravid said on Wednesday.

India will have to bat well in the absence of its regular opening pair of Rohit and Rahul.

Dravid expects a match-winning performance if not a hundred from Kohli, who looked good in the practice game but the Test match will be different.

James Anderson might be a month short of his 40th birthday, but those magical wrists can still make the ball dart around and it will be a different experience for Shubman Gill or Shreyas Iyer.

Edgbaston hasn’t exactly been a happy hunting ground for India where it has lost most of its Test matches, but as it often happens with new beginnings, a new captain can always try to buck the trend.