Somewhere, when it comes to decision making, we made mistakes: Rohit Sharma
- Sharma, who hit a 47-ball 74 in the 66-run victory, was relaxed and delved into the Indian team’s shortcomings in their T20 World Cup campaign every bit like a senior statesman.
After finishing Man-of-the-Match against Afghanistan on Wednesday, Rohit Sharma came to address the media. On seeing familiar faces, he did a head count and spoke of how nice it was to meet people in person after a year-and-a-half of Zoom press meets.
Sharma, who hit a 47-ball 74 in the 66-run victory, was relaxed and delved into the Indian team’s shortcomings in their T20 World Cup campaign every bit like a senior statesman. Sharma will soon be getting used to more such interactions as he gears up to be the one to lead India in the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, and, in all likelihood, the 2023 ODI World Cup at home.
Sharma has been pushing his case by displaying his tactical acumen at every given opportunity, for India in Virat Kohli’s absence and in the Indian Premier League (IPL). With five IPL titles in nine years leading Mumbai Indians, a phenomenal record in the sport’s most competitive T20 league, he’s for long been touted to lead India in limited-overs cricket. At one point it appeared that time was running out for the 34-year-old with the selectors unwilling to go for split captaincy in Indian cricket to avoid team divisions. However, Kohli’s batting slump this year, burdened by leading India in all formats as well as his IPL franchise, necessitated a change.
If Sharma is indeed appointed India’s white-ball captain, it won’t come as a surprise. But the selectors and the Mumbai batter may not be looking at a long stint. Sharma has come through many injury setbacks and retaining fitness levels may become one of his immediate priorities. KL Rahul, 29, has gained valuable experience from leading Punjab Kings in the IPL, and form permitting, should be Sharma’s successor.
There have been calls after India lost their first two World Cup games, which could ruin their semi-final hopes, for an overhaul of the T20 team. Sharma admitted that the team erred in decision making but backed the side. “The amount of cricket we are playing and the sort of life we are living, sometimes these things happen. You need to be taking the right decisions on the field all the time. For that, it’s important that your mind is fresh,” he said.
“Somewhere, when it comes to decision making, we made mistakes, be it with the bat or ball. But again, when you are playing a World Cup, you should be more focused. We were unable to deliver in the first two games. This does not mean that we are now bad players and a bad team. We have consistently played good cricket. Sometimes you have to reflect on your mistakes and then you comeback,” he added.
But India remain heavily reliant on the top order to bat big in the first phase of a T20 contest, and that needs some course correction. It’s something Sharma will look to address with incoming coach Rahul Dravid. “Congratulations to him for coming back but in a different capacity with the Indian team. We look forward to working with him. He’s a stalwart of Indian cricket, and it’ll be nice working with him in the future,” he said of Dravid’s appointment on Wednesday.
If Kohli and outgoing coach Ravi Shastri as a team were firebrand expressive personalities, Sharma and Dravid are more measured. None of the four is lacking in ambition, but it’s a change the Indian dressing room will soon have to get used to.
Kohli, as Test captain, joining forces with Dravid will be another interesting dynamic to watch as India look to break their ICC title drought across formats in the next two years. Sharma, now at the top of his Test batting powers, could be vital to the Kohli-led Test team. Kohli, relieved of the burden of white-ball captaincy, can focus on regaining batting form in the shorter formats.