Rohit Sharma
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, who has had a miserable run in the Indian Premier League for Mumbai Indians, wants to take a break during the South Africa series. Image Credit: Courtesy: BCCI

Dubai: Indian skipper Rohit Sharma, who has been in terrible run of form, has requested for a break from the five-match Twenty20 series against South Africa, beginning in Delhi on June 9.

“Yes, Rohit asked for a break and it’s understandable. He played all the games for Mumbai Indians and it takes a toll especially when the team doesn’t do well. We understand that. We want him fresh for the England tour,” an Indian website InsideSport reported without naming the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official.

Indian squads

The absence of the Indian opener, who has had a terrible run for Mumbai Indians, means Indian selectors will have to name a new skipper for the Twenty20 series against South Africa. Former skipper Virat Kohli relinquished his post after the Twenty20 World Cup in the UAE late last year and the senior opener Rohit Sharma, who has been a vice-captain for India for many years now apart from leading the country in Kohli’s absence, became the logical choice to lead the country in the shorter formats and subsequently the longest format this February.

Limited-overs stalwart Rohit managed only 248 runs from 14 games at an average of 19.14, failing to score a single fifty for the first time in his IPL career.

"A lot of things that I wanted to do didn't happen," said Rohit, India's captain, after Mumbai finished their campaign with a five-wicket victory against Delhi Capitals on Saturday. "But this has happened with me earlier as well, so it's not something I am going through for the first time. ... I need to take care of the mental aspect and think about how I can return to form and perform." Rohit's struggles with the bat mirrored five-time champion Mumbai's disappointing campaign, in which IPL's most successful franchise effectively dropped out of the playoff race after eight successive losses.

"It was a bit disappointing season for us as we couldn't execute our plans at the start of the tournament," Rohit said. "In tournaments like the IPL, you have to build that momentum."

Kohli ready to take a break

Indian selectors, who are meeting to pick the squads for South Africa series and Ireland and England tours on Sunday, are likely to add many newcomers for the South African series. Experienced players like Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are widely expected to be given some rest with the likes of Rahul Tripathi, Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh earning a call-up for Team India after their consistent performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is entering the play-offs this week.

Kohli had recently said to a cricket website that he is open to the idea of taking a break, which would rejuvenate him mentally and help get him get out of the lean patch. The former Indian skipper has targeted winning Asia Cup and the World Cup in Australia are his main goals for the year. However, the former world No 1 batter gets another tilt at the elusive IPL title after Royal Challengers Bangalore became the fourth team to make the play-offs on Saturday.

Pandya tipped to lead India

All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has been in red-hot form, is tipped to lead a new-look side after stunning the cricket aficionados with his captaincy skills and has also guided IPL debutants Gujarat Titans to the top of the league table in Season 15.

Indian team will be embarking on a busy schedule, starting with the five-match Twenty20 series against South Africa and will be playing a two-match Twenty20 series against Ireland in Dublin. After playing the fifth Test against England in Birmingham from July 1-5, which was postponed last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak in September last year, and then play three Twenty20 and three One-Day Internationals against hosts England.