Team India was supposedly in the middle of a crisis until Indian captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri dismissed all reports of a rift between the skipper and Rohit Sharma as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘baffling’. The rumours started after Rohit Sharma unfollowed Kohli’s wife Anushka Sharma on Instagram.
There were also reports that the captain, coach, and the team management were not happy with a player extending his partner’s stay at the World Cup. Although the concerned player was not named, it was understood, it was Rohit’s wife who was in the stands in all India’s matches.
There have been also talks of splitting the captaincy between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Kohli could lead the Test team, while Rohit can helm the limited-overs team.
The suggestion holds ground as Rohit Sharma has proven records as limited-overs skipper whenever he has led India in Kohli’s absence.
Cricwizz takes a look at five reasons India should split captaincy between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma
The strategy has worked before
When MS Dhoni quit Test cricket in 2014, Virat Kohli led India in the longer format. Kohli led India to No 1 Test rank, while Dhoni continued to lead India in limited-overs cricket until a couple of seasons ago. India did well in all formats under two captains.
The respect the two had for each other made the task easier. It also helped Kohli to focus on one format as skipper, while Dhoni led the team with aplomb in white-ball cricket. So, the split captaincy can work again too with Kohli claiming he has immense respect for Rohit and should not have any problem playing under the Hitman.
Rohit has a great record as captain in limited-overs cricket
It’s fair to stay that Rohit has led from the front in white-ball cricket whenever Kohli was absent or rested from the shorter format. In fact, Rohit’s brief captaincy in limited-overs cricket is extra-ordinary. In his brief career as skipper in limited-overs cricket, Rohit has hardly lost anything. In his combined tally as skipper in both ODIs and T20Is, he has led India in 25 games, winning 20 and losing just 5.
He has led from the front, scoring 543 runs averaging 77.57 with 2 tons and 2 fifties as ODI skipper in 10 matches. And in his 15 matches as T20I skipper, he has scored 556 runs @ 39.71 with 2 tons and 3 fifties at a strike rate of 158.85. That’s a phenomenal record as skipper-cum-batsman.
It will reduce pressure on captain Kohli
With the World Test Championship kickstarting with the Test series against West Indies, every match is important. And each team will fight for a win to draw maximum points. Hence, Kohli will have to lead his team aggressively, plan better and execute it perfectly to draw maximum points. In such circumstances, it will be a wise move to allow Kohli to just focus on Test captaincy, while Rohit wears the skipper’s hat for limited-overs. And Rohit is not a first-choice for Test cricket anyways.
Kohli has not won any major ICC tournaments
Sunil Gavaskar has questioned Kohli’s captaincy after India’s exit from the 2019 World Cup in the semis against New Zealand. He said that earlier, Indian captains were removed from their post if there were similar such disappointments. He called selectors lame ducks for not even calling Kohli for a meeting for his reappointment post World Cup.
Gavaskar has merit. Kohli’s form in knockout matches in ODI series or tournament finals has been dismal. In 8 tournament finals, he has managed just 154 runs @ 22. He has not won any major ICC tournaments under his leadership. India lost the 2017 Champions Trophy final, while they were knocked out from 2019 World Cup in the semi-final against New Zealand under Kohli’s leadership. Hence, there’s a call for a new captain with fresh ideas ahead of the 2020 World T20.
Rohit has the knack of winning tournaments
Rohit has won four IPL titles out of four times he has led Mumbai Indians into the finals. That’s an impeccable record as a skipper. He beats MS Dhoni in this respect.
Rohit must be doing something right to achieve such great success for his IPL team. Even as skipper for Team India in limited-overs cricket, he has won all ODI or T20I series or tournaments except the T20I series against New Zealand this year. He has won the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka, Nidahas Trophy and Asia Cup.
Verdict: With the 2023 World Cup being held in India, Rohit Sharma would be the ideal candidate to lead India, while Kohli man the force in Test cricket.