Dubai: The success of Rohit Sharma, who won his fifth IPL crown in eight years in charge of Mumbai Indians, has once again renewed the call to make him India’s captain in the shortest format of the game.
Now 33 and one of the white ball giants of the game, Rohit had been deputising to skipper Virat Kohli for a number of years and slipped in as the stand-in captain in the shorter formats whenever Kohli was not available. His calm demeanour, along with an ability to think to think on his feet - something so necessary in the pressure cooker format of franchise cricket and that too with a high performing franchise, makes him a surefire candidate for the post.
A number of former cricketers have voted for India to go for split captaincy with Kohli leading the national side in Tests and 50-overs format, while Sharma can be in charge of the T20 side. The senior pro, who betrayed no signs of any discomfort as he put his team on course to victory in the IPL final on Tuesday night with a classy 68 off 51 balls, is travelling with the squad to Australia from Dubai in the early hours of Thursday, but has been kept out of both white ball series there to continue with his ‘rehab’ before the Test series.
‘‘If Rohit Sharma doesn’t become India captain, it’s their loss, not Rohit’s. Yes, a captain is only as good as his team and I completely agree with that, but what are the parameters to judge a captain on who is good and who isn’t? The parameters and benchmark should be the same. Rohit has led his team to five IPL titles,’’ remarked the plain-speaking Gautam Gambhir, a former Indian opener and two-time World Cup winner.
Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles, said Rohit was a significantly better captain than Kohli in these formats. The cricketer-turned-MP had said recently that Kohli should be held accountable for his team Royal Challengers Bangalore’s continued drought in the IPL.
“Why can’t you have split captaincy? It’s not a bad idea. I’m not suggesting Kohli is a terribly bad captain but both got the same platform and you can judge who’s better. For me, Rohit Sharma stands out as leader,” he said.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan felt delegating T20 captaincy to Rohit would help reduce Kohli’s workload. “I honestly believe that the Indian team will be better off in Twenty20 cricket being led by Rohit Sharma,” Vaughan told a website, citing split-captaincy examples in England and Australia. These two countries, along with Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies have embraced the concept of having multiple captains for sometime now.
“Virat Kohli is superhuman. Giving away one aspect of his captaincy will free him up to be the 50-overs leader and the Test match leader,” Vaughan said.
Former India opener Virender Sehwag, meanwhile, described Rohit as “the best captain in the format” on Twitter. “Ab to aadat si hai sabko aise dhone ki. The best T20 franchise in the world and the best captain in the format. Deserving winners , Mumbai Indians, koi shak. Amazingly well organised tournament despite various challenges,” the swahbuckling opener said.
Kohli and Sharma, the two most high profile performers of Indian cricket in the post-Dhoni generation, bring in completely different traits as captains on the table. While Kohli had been more in-your-face and animated, Sharma believes more in the Dhoni-style of leadership and had time and again shown his cricketing nouss - apart from winning the Asia Cup at the UAE in 2018. Mumbai Indians defeated Delhi Capitals by five wickets and eight balls to spare in the finals of the tournament on Tuesday at the Dubai International Stadium.