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One step forward, two steps back?; KL, Pant would have been ideal successors to lead in T20Is

11:29 PM Sep 16, 2021 | FPJ News Service

Mumbai: In sport, as in life, timing is everything. Virat Kohli has abdicated the T20I throne for Rohit Sharma, his deputy in the two condensed formats. Opinions will be divided on the timing of the decision given that the T20 World Cup is just a month away.

Since Virat has decided to lead India’s T20I team for this marquee event, what does the future hold for ‘skipper’ Rohit?

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Rohit has time to spell out his vision for the 2022 World Cup in Australia. That said, he will be already 35 by then, which means he isn’t exactly a long-term captaincy option in the shortest format.

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Transition becomes smooth when the successor is young. Virat was in his late 20s when MS Dhoni stepped down as ODI skipper. Both Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly took charge in the pink of their youth. The Indian teams under their leadership acquired the forms of their personalities: bold, fearless and expressive. This Indian outfit, in appearance, resembles so much like Kohli. In verbal jousts too. Phrases like “go after one of our guys, all 11 will come right back” are so much from the Kohli playlist.

But back to Rohit. Has Indian cricket given him enough time to build the team around his brand of leadership?

Moreover, 35 is an age when most batsmen attain their peak. We’ve just witnessed the flowering of Rohit, the Test batsman. Perhaps, his best is yet to come.

Would he rather focus on elevating his Test game to even greater heights rather than be encumbered with a needless distraction in his late 30s? And how many T20Is do India play annually in any case?

And considering that the pace of T20I wouldn’t be the same two years from now – strike-rates of 180 are becoming frighteningly real – it would have made sense to groom KL Rahul or Rishabh Pant for the job.

It’s a touch surprising that Virat hasn’t reassessed his position as ODI skipper. Should Rohit lead India to championship win in Australia – give his pedigree as IPL skipper it wouldn’t come as surprise – the pressure would further mount on Virat.

Rahul can be groomed as a future captain: Gavaskar

Batting great Sunil Gavaskar feels K L Rahul is captaincy material and should be groomed as a future leader of the Indian cricket team. Gavaskar made the comments after Virat Kohli announced that he would step down from T20 captaincy after the World Cup. Rohit Sharma is set to take over from Kohli.

"It's a good thing that the BCCI is looking ahead. It's important to think ahead," said Gavaskar on Sports Tak.

Rahul captains Punjab Kings in the IPL.

"He has shown very impressive leadership qualities in the IPL. He hasn't let the burden of captaincy affect his batting. His name can be taken into consideration,” added Gavaskar.

Finally, Virat’s longevity as batsman is the key to India further asserting their supremacy in Tests. Perhaps, it would have made sense had he relived himself of leading India in ODIs. India would have benefitted much more by having Virat in the right headspace as a batsman.

While it appears that Indian cricket has take a step forward, has it actually moved two steps back?

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