Should Rohit Sharma Captain India in T20I Matches?
Rohit Sharma recently led Mumbai Indians to their fifth IPL title and revived a debate that had been dormant for a while. It’s an argument that has been brewing for a while: should Rohit Sharma replace Virat Kohli as captain in T20I matches? Various observers, including past and present cricketers, have weighed in with their opinions on the subject. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of replacing Kohli with Sharma as India’s T20I captain.
Arguments in Favour
- If players can be picked based on their performance in the IPL, then why not captains? This is an argument favoured by Gautam Gambhir, former India player and former IPL skipper (Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals). This addresses the objection of some that the IPL is not comparable with international cricket.
- Sharma is a better T20 captain than Kohli. Whereas Sharma has led five successful title campaigns for Mumbai Indians, Kohli is yet to win the title for Royal Challengers Bangalore. This is hard to argue against, going by the captaincy records of the two in the IPL.
- Picking Sharma as skipper of India’s T20I side will give Kohli a breather. Kohli has his plate full in terms of being India’s best batsman across formats as well as captain of the ODI and Test sides. So, relieving him from the captaincy of the T20I side would help reduce stress in a crowded cricket calendar. Former England captain Michael Vaughan recommends this measure, saying, “it works for all other teams around the world.”
- Splitting the captaincy across formats can cause confusion and reduce synergy within the Indian team which has about 70 percent of players performing across formats. Former Indian all-rounder and skipper Kapil Dev backs this argument.
- IPL and international cricket cannot be compared. In the IPL, franchise owners have a big say on how teams are managed and skippered. Captains of international teams, by comparison, can impose their views, especially in matters such as team selection.
- Kohli’s captaincy record in T20Is is exemplary. He has won 24 of 37 matches skippered while losing only 11. Also, Kohli appears to thrive on pressure. The additional responsibility appears to bring out the best in him as a batsman.
We tend to agree with Akash Chopra who points out that Virat Kohli has done brilliantly well as India’s T20I captain. Compare the win percentages: while Sharma has won 60% of his games as captain of Mumbai Indians in the IPL, Kohli has emerged victorious in 72% of the matches in which he has led India. Chopra also makes a valid point when he asks whether the selectors should drop such player as KL Rahul from the Indian T20I team if he had a poor IPL season with the bat, underscoring that Rahul is a proven performer in international cricket. Chopra also rebuts the argument that Kohli does well as India’s T20I captain as he has been handed a strong team by pointing out that Rohit Sharma has enjoyed his success at the helm of Mumbai Indians who are a strong IPL team. There is no denying that Sharma is a good T20 captain, but if Kohli continues to do well at India’s helm, there is no reson to replace him as skipper.
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