Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: AFP

Rohit Sharma, the white-ball captain-in-waiting for a while now, has finally been handed the baton in T20 cricket. It has passed from outgoing skipper Virat Kohli, his teammate for close to a decade now and captain since 2017. This had been the writing on the wall for close to six months now.

The BCCI on Tuesday evening announced a 16-member squad for the three-match T20 series against New Zealand, giving the captaincy to Rohit Sharma and making opening partner KL Rahul his deputy.

Rohit Sharma could also be named the captain for the first Test against New Zealand, with Virat Kohli likely to be rested. The now-former T20I skipper would be taking charge for the second and final Test against the Kiwis.

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma- Twitter

Rohit Sharma Named T20I Skipper For New Zealand Bilateral T20I Series

Outgoing T20 skipper Virat Kohli has taken a break for the T20I series and will be back for the Tests against New Zealand to be ready in time for the tour of South Africa later this year. The baton in ODIs, too, could be passed on to Rohit Sharma, but the announcement will take some time to come. The BCCI has decided that white-ball captaincy cannot be split, and therefore, they are left with no choice but to have a chat with Virat Kohli on the issue.

The decision to quit as T20I skipper was Virat Kohli’s alone, and the BCCI played no role in helping him make up his mind. However, this time around, the BCCI and Virat Kohli may have no choice but to sit across the table and have a quiet word, unless the latter decides to post another message leading to the tour of South Africa.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli (BCCI)

The Rohit Sharma-Rahul Dravid pair will together plan and shape India’s campaign in the 2022 edition of the T20 World Cup and most likely the 2023 edition of the 50-over World Cup. KL Rahul, who has been announced as Rohit Sharma’s deputy, may continue in the same role in the 50-over format too.

Some BCCI officials are of the view that Virat Kohli can go on to become a doubly dangerous batsman in the shorter formats without the burden of captaincy.  The BCCI, meanwhile, is convinced that Virat Kohli’s captaincy in Test cricket has played a major role in India’s ascendancy and dominance at the top and he will continue to serve in that capacity going forward.

Outgoing coach Ravi Shastri is learnt to have been in agreement about a switch in captaincy and is understood to have told the BCCI that it will not only bring a fresh perspective to the white-ball format but also allow Virat Kohli to concentrate on his batting.

Venkatesh Iyer And Harshal Patel Earns Maiden Call Up In NZ T20I Bilateral Series

Virat Kohli last scored an ODI century in August 2019 against the West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval and has gone for 15 matches thereafter without one. The rigours have taken a toll on his Test-match batting too, and the skipper has gone without a hundred in red-ball cricket for 21 innings now.

“The good bit is that Kohli himself understands that for him to be what he aspires to be – the best in the world – he can’t allow unnecessary pressures to dictate his cricket. And he’s fortunate to be able to make that decision for himself. In team sport, that’s not always the case,” said a team source.

Life, meanwhile, will come full circle for Rohit Sharma, who saw the 2011 50-over World Cup final from the stands at the Wankhede Stadium after missing out on being part of the squad.

“There’s so much he wants to make up for,” his friends say.

Venkatesh Iyer scored his maiden IPL fifty in the game vs MI.© Instagram
Venkatesh Iyer scored his maiden IPL fifty in the game vs MI.© Instagram

While Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested, Hardik Pandya has been dropped from the team. Varun Chakravarthy, who generated hype leading up to the T20 World Cup, too has been left out.

Venkatesh Iyer, who was a sensation in the second leg of the IPL 2021 in the UAE, has earned his maiden India call-up along with RCB pacer Harshal Patel. Venkatesh Iyer scored 320 runs in 10 games at an average of 41.11 and a strike rate of 128.47, including four half-centuries. He finished as KKR’s fourth-highest run scorer.

India’s T20I squad against NZ: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj