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Rohit Sharma’s T20I return not ruled out | Cricket


Rohit Sharma’s T20I return not ruled out | Cricket


Even at the lowest ebb of his captainship stint, after India were outclassed by England in the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final at Adelaide, Rohit Sharma knew exactly what he had to work for next. The Indian skipper plotted and planned all through 2023 which culminated in a remarkable ODI World Cup campaign for the home side; one in which they fluffed their lines in the big final.

India's Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 final match between India and Australia(PTI)
India’s Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 final match between India and Australia(PTI)

Does he get another shot at redemption? Get to lead India in another World Cup campaign, that’s only a little over six months away; but in a format where there are many other fearless top-order contenders – Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad – pushing for a new order?

In the absence of any official word, speculation has been rife that Rohit Sharma, 36, may have already played his last T20I at Adelaide. And that may still prove to be the case, but it’s far from being cast in stone, especially given how he has upped his strike-rate in recent internationals. “The selectors’ outlook is forward looking and they want the T20 team to have a distinct identity,” said one BCCI official. “But there will be discussions definitely with Rohit to find out his line of thinking.”

On two occasions during the year, Sharma made his thoughts known. “I’ve not decided to give up the format,” he told reporters earlier in January. “I think it was made clear in the past that it’s a 50-over World Cup year. And for some of the guys, it’s not possible to play all formats. I definitely fall in that (category) as well.”

Later in August, at a promotional event in United States, he had this to say, “There is another reason to come here (US). Because you know the World Cup is coming. In June (2024), the T20 World Cup is happening in this part of the world. So, I’m pretty sure everyone is excited. So yeah, we look forward to that.”


Right through the year, with the focus on ODI cricket, Hardik Pandya has been India’s T20 captain; being groomed for a more permanent role. But that was never made official, and now the injury-prone all-rounder is out of action again; although to a freak injury. Pandya is unlikely to be available for the South Africa T20Is in December which leaves the selectors with only the T20Is against Afghanistan in January and the IPL to firm up their plans.

The IPL will reveal a lot, but its proximity to the T20 World Cup may mean, the selectors may not want to wait that long. Speaking to the decision makers, it’s also clear that the ongoing T20I matches against Australia are being watched closely. “It’s a long five-match series against a competitive opposition. By the end of the series, we may have a lot of the performers making the core of the T20 World Cup squad. Or we may realise, some of them are lacking in temperament,” said the official.

The series may also provide answers to whether there is room for any, or how many anchor-batters in the squad. Virat Kohli’s heroics against Pakistan at Melbourne in the last T20 tourney are still fresh in memory. But if Kohli were to play for being a big-match player, the selectors would want the right batting mix around him.

KL Rahul is also not being seen as a T20 certainty. Even Shreyas Iyer, who missed the last IPL will have to cement his spot, when he returns in the last two T20Is against Australia. The younger brigade will get opportunities beyond the ongoing series, with Sharma and Kohli unlikely to play the South Africa T2OIs.


Another key vacuum in the think-tank is the head coach. It was widely believed that Rahul Dravid would not be seeking an extension, irrespective of the result in the ODI World Cup. A section of the BCCI still believes, Dravid’ competitive juices may tempt him to continue until at least the T20 World Cup. “I have had no time to think and reflect on this. I will when I get the time to do that,” he had said after last week’s final in Ahmedabad.

If Dravid decides to move on, NCA director VVS Laxman who has regularly been with the T20 team in his absence is an obvious contender. But it can be confirmed that no T20 centric big picture strategic discussions between Laxman, selectors and BCCI officials have been held yet. The current set of support staff – VVS Laxman, Sitanshu Kotak and Sairaj Bahutule are only focused on the Australia series.


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