The Indian selectors’ decision to make Rohit Sharma the new captain of ODIs, replacing Virat Kohli, comes as a surprise to one and all.
In September, days before the T20 World Cup, Kohli had announced that he would step down as the T20 captain after the tournament. He said that he was stepping down to deal with his immense workload and that it would allow him to be fully ready to lead Team India with a focused mind in Tests and 50-overs contests.
He had taken over the ODI captaincy front MS Dhoni in 2017 and had captained India in 95 games, winning 65 games and losing just 27 games, having a 70% win record - which is the third in world cricket behind Ricky Ponting and Hansie Cronje and is more than other captain of Team India. During this period, he scored 5449 runs at an average of 72.65 which is again the best among all current players.
India won 15 ODI series out of 19 played under Kohli’s captaincy with series wins in South Africa, Australia and West Indies. He has scored 21 hundreds, just one century behind Ricky Ponting as skipper.
What was missing in his cabinet, however, was an ICC trophy. He captained India in the 2017 Champions Trophy where India lost to Pakistan in the final and after dominating the 2019 World Cup in England, India were beaten by New Zealand in the semi-finals at Manchester.
Appointing Rohit Sharma as an T20 captain was understandable as he had the experience of leading Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles. But replacing Kohli abruptly as ODI captain is a bit of surprise as he has been exceptional in the ODI format and has led from the front from the time he has been made the captain. More importantly, he wanted to captain the one-day side and that’s why he had stepped down as T20 skipper. The next ODI World Cup is happening in India in 2023 and Kohli would have dearly loved to get that coveted trophy for his country under his captaincy but that would not be the case now.
Only time will tell if making Rohit as the ODI captain will ensure India a ICC trophy.
- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice Chairman of Danube Group