Rohit Sharma named India T20 squad skipper, Kohli rested
- Fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja have also been rested with Hardik Pandya not included
Indian cricket marks a new beginning with Rohit Sharma appointed the T20 skipper on Tuesday to take over from Virat Kohli, who ended his role in the shortest format with the World Cup elimination. Sharma will be the first to link up with new head coach, Rahul Dravid, in the home T20 series against New Zealand this month, as Kohli opted for a break.
The elevation of Sharma, who was vice-captain, was expected, the confirmation coming in the Indian cricket board statement announcing the squad for the three-match T20 series to be played in Jaipur (Nov 17), Ranchi (Nov 19) and Kolkata (Nov 21). BCCI did not mention Sharma’s tenure, but the plan is for him to lead in the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia. KL Rahul has been named vice-captain.
The T20s will be followed by a two-Test series and Kohli is expected to return only for the second game in Mumbai. “Kohli will also be resting from the first Test against New Zealand,” a BCCI official said.
Sharma, 34, is the seniormost among the current India players, having made his international debut as a big talent in June 2007. He was in the triumphant T20 World Cup team in South Africa that year and returned to that country for his first Indian Premier League title with Deccan Chargers in 2009. He has four T20 international centuries.
While his white-ball career soared after being promoted to open in 2013 under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, he honed his leadership skills with Mumbai Indians, guiding them to an IPL-record five titles. There was speculation last year whether Sharma, fresh from MI’s 2020 win, would be handed the T20 captaincy. Outgoing coach Ravi Shatri and Kohli spoke of the inputs from Sharma within the team as they said on Monday that his elevation would be a formality.
Indian cricket returns to split captaincy. “I think it's not such a bad thing,” Shastri said on Monday. “In Rohit you've got a very capable guy. He’s won so many IPLs. He’s been the vice-captain.” Kohli and Dhoni, and before that Anil Kumble and Dhoni, had shared the captaincy.
The Chetan Sharma-led selection committee may have to make a few another key decisions, including Kohli continuing as ODI skipper. It is likely that Sharma could soon be assigned leadership of both white-ball teams. “You will know soon. A call will be taken by the national selectors,” the official said.
The selectors have also rested Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja for the T20s. Eight players from the T20 World Cup squad will miss the New Zealand series. All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who struggled for bowling fitness, has not been included. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar will go to South Africa with India A while Yuzvendra Chahal, a controversial omission for the World Cup, has been recalled.
The selectors have named nine new names in the squad of 16. Ruturaj Gaikwad, the young Maharashtra batsman who finished as IPL’s top-scorer this season with champions Chennai Super Kings, and Madhya Pradesh player Venkatesh Iyer, who impressed as opener with runners-up Kolkata Knight Riders and bowled seam-up, have been called up.
The 26-year-old Venkatesh will look to take up the all-rounder’s role. Pandya’s World Cup selection was controversial after the selectors realised he was not fit to bowl. Retained as a batter, Pandya could only deliver four below-par overs in five matches. He largely underperformed with the bat as well.
Shardul Thakur and Varun Chakaravarthy from the World Cup squad too have been axed, both having finished wicketless in the UAE. Chakravarthy played with a troublesome knee and calf, and despite bowling some economical overs, he did not live up to his billing as a mystery bowler who would give breakthroughs.
Gaikwad had an outstanding IPL with 635 runs, including a hundred. The 24-year-old was in India’s limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in July. He has also been in great form in the ongoing Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
The selectors have also rewarded two pacers for their outstanding IPL—Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel, who is also a handy batsman. Khan was a regular for Delhi Capitals and was also with the squad in the England Test series. Patel was the purple cap holder in IPL where he bamboozled the best with his mix of slower balls, primarily the off-cutter, in the death overs in particular.
With Bumrah and Shami rested, Mohammed Siraj comes into the T20 mix, having played a key role in India’s recent Test wins. Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer and Deepak Chahar, all of whom were in the UAE as reserves, have made it back to the team. Tearaway Jammu and Kashmir quick Umran Malik, who impressed with Sunrisers Hyderabad, was picked for the India A tour of South Africa.