Rohit, Kohli get final shot at T20 glory but will selectors’ safe approach cost India another WC?

05:33 PM Jan 08, 2024 | PTI |

The selectors have clearly gone for the status quo rather than addressing the elephant in the room by picking Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for their first T20 series in 14 months. Will it have a bearing on India’s chances in another T20 World Cup? Only time can tell.


Having endured a heartbreak in the previous two editions of the T20 World Cup, the two greats of the game can’t be faulted for wanting a final shot at glory in the format. But the same can’t be said about the selectors, who picked a fresh bunch of players to take the team forward since the crushing semifinal loss to England in November 2022.

Now that Rohit and Kohli have been picked for the home series against Afghanistan beginning on January 11, it is a given that the famed duo will be a part of India’s squad for the ICC showpiece in the US and Caribbean in June.

It also means that India, who have been guilty of playing conservative cricket at the top of the order, are also back to square one as far as their planning for the T20 mega event is concerned.

The two superstars played a massive role in taking India to the ODI World Cup final but can they step up to the demands of the shortest format where one needs to go after the bowlers from ball one? Rohit, who did not score tons of runs in the recently held ODI showpiece but yet managed to make a compelling impact with his high risk game, will most likely carry on in the same vein when the Afghanistan series begins in Mohali.


On the other hand, Kohli’s game is tailor-made for the 50-over format but he has also managed to maintain more than a decent strike rate of 137.96 over 148 T20s. Rohit strikes at almost 140 in T20s but he too will need to bat at a higher clip to keep up with the fast changing demands of the modern game.

In contrast, their teammate and world’s best T20 batter, Suryakumar Yadav, bats at a 170 plus strike rate.

The likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad showed promise in the opportunities they got in the absence of senior players but there is no substitute to experience at an ICC event. It’s a sentiment that has been unanimously voiced by former players including Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly, who have backed the inclusion of Rohit and Kohli in the T20 squad.

Former India selector Sarandeep Singh too feels Rohit and Kohli are best suited for the job.

”It is the right call. In ICC events, you need players who can handle pressure well. They both were great in the ODI World Cup and are in top form. However, this development means it would be very difficult to accommodate Jaiswal and Ruturaj,” he told PTI.

He also justified the celebrated pair not playing the shortest format since November 2022.

”You have to prepare bench strength also. In all probability this will be their last T20 World Cup. If Rohit and Virat were not rested, you could not have tried the likes of Jaiswal, Ruturaj, Jitesh (Sharma) and others.

”Having said that, these two greats don’t need to play the shortest format to make a comeback. Eventually, the performance of all the World Cup probables in the IPL will make the picture clearer for the subsequent World Cup,” the former India spinner added.

With Rohit and Kohli’s inclusion, it is amply clear that selectors did not want to rock the boat. Former India opener Aakash Chopra feels the selectors had to pick both the greats as they could not have left one and included the other.

”It seemed they won’t play another T20 World Cup (after 2022) as they had not been playing since the previous edition. Both are in the same boat. Even if the selectors thought about leaving out one of the two, I don’t think they would have been able to do that. It was always about picking both or otherwise,” Chopra said on his youtube channel.

Hardik Pandya had led the T20 side in Rohit’s absence and was expected to lead the team in the US and Caribbean but another injury setback seems to have cost him that chance.

Rohit is back as captain and will have Kohli by his side to rely on when India take on the sprightly bunch of Afghans in the three-match series. But most significantly, will they finally be able to land an elusive ICC title? That question will be answered in five months’ time.


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