The script for Team India’s white-ball story is set to undergo a huge change in the coming months. Current captain Virat Kohli is likely to step down as the white-ball (ODI & T20Is) captain after the T20 World Cup in October-November, paving the way for Rohit Sharma to take up the responsibility.
Kohli (32), who currently leads the team across all formats and is India’s most successful captain ever, is learned to have taken the call to share leadership responsibilities with Sharma (34), BCCI sources told TOI.
Kohli has had prolonged discussions with Sharma and the team management over the last few months, particularly after Team India’s triumph in Australia, one that coincided with Kohli becoming a father.
“Virat himself will make the announcement. He is of the view that he needs to concentrate on his batting and go back to becoming what he’s always been — the best batsman in the world,” sources said.
While this development is going to create a huge buzz in the media and the social media, BCCI has been busy gearing up for this moment.
‘Captaincy in 3 formats affecting Virat’s batting’
We realise spin-masters will be at work, giving their own twists to these developments. That’s the reason BCCI is planning this well in advance. In the end, Virat and Rohit are on the same page,” the sources revealed.
TOI had first reported about Kohli and Sharma’s growing camaraderie and renewed friendship in March this year and how the long quarantines and isolation windows had brought the two ‘alpha males’ in the dressing room closer than ever.
Kohli feels his batting, across formats, needs more time and greater impetus as Team India looks at two World Cups – T20 and ODI – between 2022 and 2023 respectively.
Between 2018 and now, he’s led India to some historic Test wins in Australia and England and his team now stands on the brink of repeating a similar feat in South Africa should India succeed on that tour in the coming months.
“It will wrap up a historic Test cycle from an India perspective. Virat is also the first to realise that his overall responsibilities as captain across formats are taking a toll on his batting. He needs that space and freshness because he has a lot more to offer. If Rohit takes over as whiteball captain, Virat can continue leading India’s red-ball aspirations and work on his T20 and One-day batting. He’s just 32 and given his fitness, he will easily play top cricket for another five to six years at least,” say those in the know.
Sharma, meanwhile, is in the form of his life across formats and enjoys the status as a senior member of the squad. His T20 captaincy records are second to none, having won five IPL titles for the Mumbai Indians, and the fact that he happens to be among the world’s best white-ball openers is not lost on anyone.
“If he had to ever take over as white-ball captain, that time is now. And it’s going to be a win-win for the Indian team because the two senior cricketers are so well in tune with each other,” said a source.
Of course, Rohit will have to ensure he maintains top-level fitness. Virat has led by example on that front. For the record, MS Dhoni coming aboard as a mentor has nothing to do with captaincy. “MS has come as mentor because his mere presence in the dugout will help the team strategize better. When you have such resources at your disposal, why not use them at the opportune moment,” BCCI sources told TOI.
Dhoni had stepped down as Test skipper in 2014 in Australia, with BCCI handing over the reins to Kohli. The Delhi dasher became the leader in all formats in 2017 when Dhoni stepped down from that role as well.