Rishabh Pant added another feather to his crown on Thursday when he was chosen national captain after KL Rahul, who had been designated captain, was ruled out due to a groin injury on the eve of the T20I opener against South Africa. It was one of the finest moments in the 24-year-old stumper’s cricket career, he said.

Pant, who captains Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), became India’s second-youngest captain in men’s T20Is behind Suresh Raina. Raina (23y 197d) is the panel’s leader, followed by Pant (24y 248d) and MS Dhoni (26y 66d). Overall, Pant joined Syed Kirmani, Rahul Dravid, and MS Dhoni as the fourth keeper to captain India in international cricket.

“It is one of the proudest moments in my cricketing career so far. Because a Delhi boy getting that (captaincy) honor at Delhi is a huge thing for me,” Pant said at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

“We know our XI but at the same time we are giving different roles to players and see how they cope with that going forward.”

In terms of the Indian eleven, Dinesh Karthik returned following a brilliant IPL season with Royal Challengers Bangalore after a three-year absence. Hardik Pandya, who guided Gujarat Titans to a championship in their first season, has also returned from a back ailment.

Tristan Stubbs made his debut for South Africa, but Aiden Markram was ruled out due to Covid-19. “Aiden was not eligible for selection because he tested positive for Covid,” Bavuma said at the toss. “Stubbs comes in and makes his debut.”

“It’s a crucial series because we haven’t played together as a squad since the World Cup, and it’s a warm-up for the next World Cup in Australia.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the T20I series opening is the first cricket series to be played in India without bubble limitations. India, headed by Pant, is chasing a record of 13 straight T20 victories after matching their previous best of 12 victories.