The Rohit Sharma Dilemma: Why India Need Hitman As Captain For 2 More Years
Rohit Sharma must have felt very lonely as he walked up the long staircase at the Motera Stadium, shaking hands with whoever crossed his path on that fateful Sunday night. A World Cup final defeat like this could have felt like a stab in the chest. He had to leave that arena quickly. While it may seem like the world has collapsed around Rohit Sharma, now more than ever, the Indian cricket team needs him at the helm for at least two more years in longer formats.
When Rahul Dravid’s captaincy ended in 2007, Dhoni was a clear replacement in the team and when Dhoni left, there was already a succession in the form of Virat Kohli. And Rohit was ready to take the mantle from Kohli.
But in a team where the youngsters are years away from taking the leadership role, the selectors will have no choice but to continue with Rohit.
Listening to coach Rahul Dravid, you get an idea of how invested he was in his team and perhaps the reason why every ounce of emotion seemed to have been drained from his system after Sunday’s debacle.
“He has been an exceptional leader. Rohit has really led this team fantastically. He has given so much of his time and energy in the dressing room to the boys. He has always been available for any of our conversations, any of our meetings,” Dravid said after the game.
‘Captain Sharma’ regaled us in the last six weeks with his daring batting at the top, the way he used his bowlers and for bringing a touch of humor every now and then during a tense campaign. And like his effortless pull-shots, Rohit never had to try to be funny. He has that streak in him.
And when you see him broken, a part of you breaks somewhere too.
“He’s given a lot of his personal time, energy into this campaign. And he wanted to lead by example. Right through the tournament, he was quite excellent at doing that. I just can’t speak more highly of him as a person and as a leader,” added Dravid.
Rohit is 36 plus and in 2027 he will be 40 when South Africa hosts the next World Cup. Perhaps the chance to win a 50-over world championship, which his opposite Pat Cumins described as the pinnacle of the sport, has passed him by.
But instead of finding a quick replacement for him, the Indian cricket authorities should have Rohit lead the group for the next two years, which would be very important for Indian cricket before it starts pressing another transition button again.
Obviously, at his age, Rohit has to pick and choose the bilateral ODI series, especially the white balls that he will play.
In Test cricket, he has been India’s best batter across all conditions in the post-covid-19 phase and the team needs him more than ever.
The new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle has just started and it would end in 2025 along with the ICC Champions Trophy.
Indeed, Indian cricket needs Rohit Sharma as its leader and mentor till then and this should not be negotiable.
The reason is that India has no ready captain for ODIs and Test matches.
For T20 Internationals, they have earmarked Hardik Pandya, but for ODIs, you need a different mindset and even though Hardik was deputized during the World Cup, his fitness and workload was always going to be an issue. However, there are two more picks – KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah, who led India in a one-off Test series and a mini T20 series in Ireland.
But both Rahul and Bumrah haven’t exactly looked like mature captains.
Rahul has been an IPL captain for a long time, leading Kings XI Pujab and Lucknow Super Ginats, but is yet to win a title.
He also led India on the 2021-22 tour of South Africa, but lost one Test and all three ODIs.
And therein lies the problem. ‘Captain Sharma’ has imbibed a different playing philosophy in this team and for that to continue, he needs to be at his best and lead the team in at least two formats.
The BCCI and the national selection committee must give him time to groom his heir to the hot seat.
(With the exception of the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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