LONDON: For long, it remained a murmur. But not anymore. India’s stunning elimination from the World Cup has set the tongues wagging, this time a bit louder and in public, with a suggestion to strip Virat Kohli of the limited-overs captaincy and hand it over to Rohit Sharma.
It was Wasim Jaffer who took the courageous decision to go public first. “Is it time to hand over white ball captaincy to Rohit Sharma?,” tweeted Wasim, the former India opener.
Jaffer didn’t stop there. “I would like him to lead India in 2023 World Cup,” he declared.
Rohit’s style of captaincy has a lot of admirers within the current Indian team setup. As stand-in skipper, Rohit led the team from the front in the 2018 Asia Cup and the Nidahas Trophy T20 tournament in Sri Lanka. The way he marshalled his troupe in Virat Kohli’s absence earned him a lot of praise. Rohit was first handed over the mantle when Sri Lanka visited India in 2017. And Kohli was on a break to get married.
Though the brush with captaincy started on a wrong note with a defeat in Dharamsala, Rohit quickly got the measure of it by slamming a double hundred in India’s emphatic win in the next match at Mohali.
The current benchmark for captaincy in India was set by M.S. Dhoni, who led India to World Cup triumph in 2011. An aggressive leader, Kohli is completely different from captain Dhoni whose calm demeanour under pressure helped sail through the rough waters.
There is a striking similarity between Rohit and Dhoni. And no wonder, the duo are the most successful skipper in the Indian Premier League where the franchisees mean business and expect the team to deliver for the money invested. Dhoni has led CSK to three IPL titles, while Rohit has earned Mumbai Indians four titles.
Not long ago, former India opener Gautam Gambhir criticised Kohli’s captaincy in the IPL. Gambhir had suggested that Kohli looked good as India captain because of the presence of Dhoni and Rohit.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh on Friday, however, backed Kohli and said the credit should go to New Zealand for pulling off a sensational win.
Did Kohli make make any tactical errors in the game? Waugh said an emphatic “No”.
“Jimmy Neesham’s brilliant catch and Martin Guptill’s run out made difference. Big matches are sometimes won on fielding expertise. Credit should also be given to Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor for that crucial partnership. To win world cup you have got to be really street smart and that’s what they did. So I think not so much negative for Kohli, but positive for the Kiwis,” explained Waugh.