What next for Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma following their retirement from T20 internationals? | Crickit
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What next for Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma following their retirement from T20 internationals?

Jul 01, 2024 09:10 AM IST

Within minutes of India lifting the T20 World Cup, Virat Kohli stated his intention to quit T20Is. An hour or so later, his skipper Rohit Sharma followed suit

Usually, it’s the bitter aftertaste of defeat which spawns a slew of retirements after every major sporting event. For perhaps the first time in history, three storied individuals have announced their international retirement from a specific format in the immediacy of capturing the ultimate prize in the said format.

India's captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli celebrate after Team India wins the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024 final match against South Africa, at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday(ICC - X )
India's captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli celebrate after Team India wins the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024 final match against South Africa, at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday(ICC - X )

Within minutes of India lifting the T20 World Cup in Bridgetown on Saturday afternoon, Virat Kohli stated his intention to quit Twenty20 Internationals. An hour or so later, his skipper Rohit Sharma followed suit, almost forced to reveal his hand following a specific query at the post-match press conference. A while later, Ravindra Jadeja joined the two stalwarts in the list of former T20 Internationals, taking to social media to break the news.

None of these retirements is a surprise. Rohit has just turned 37, Kohli will be 36 in November and Jadeja is five and a half months short of his 36th birthday. Each has spent at least a decade and a half representing the country, all are certainties in the other two international formats. A World Cup winner’s medal around their necks means there is nothing more left for them to achieve for the country in T20s. That, allied with the fact that a younger bunch is ready to take over, contributed in no small measure to their calls.

What next for them? Certainly T20 franchise cricket, from all indications. There is no sign yet that they are walking away from the 20-over game in its entirety, so their fans still have plenty to look forward to in that regard. But they also have lots to contribute to the national team, given their pre-eminence in both Tests and One-Day Internationals.

India have a crammed 12 and a few months ahead of them, marked by two long and arduous away Test series bookending the 50-over Champions Trophy, tentatively scheduled for February-March, 2025. India’s next Test assignment is at home against Bangladesh, those two Tests followed by three more against New Zealand before they embark for Australia and five Tests, seeking a hat-trick of series wins Down Under. If they make it to a third successive World Test Championship final in the summer, that will be followed by five Tests in England, where India haven’t clinched a series since 2007.

For Rohit, both as rejuvenated Test opener and captain, therefore, there is so much to target. The T20 World Cup triumph has erased some of the huge disappointment of not going all the way at the 50-over home World Cup last year, but the Champions Trophy is a big carrot dangled in front of him, and the promise of a maiden WTC crown is alluring. His bat is smoking hot at the moment and he will look to maximise the time left at his disposal internationally while also being grateful, like Kohli, that he can also devote greater attention to a young family.

Kohli’s standing as the best batter of his generation has taken a little bit of a hit, though within the Indian framework, his continues to be the wicket most coveted by the oppositions. He is at that stage of his cricketing life where individual milestones don’t hold the same significance as they once used to, or when compared to collective success, as a unit. His legacy, like that of Rohit’s, is already firmly established, but he has the enthusiasm, the energy and the hunger to do more, to prepare the next generation for life without Rohit and himself. His intensity is infectious and he continues to be a role model when it comes to fitness and work ethics. He might be done with T20Is, but Kohli isn’t done with cricket. Nor is cricket with Kohli, whose contribution to Indian cricket already far outweighs the scary volume of runs and hundreds.

Rohit and Kohli have long graduated into the elder statesmen category, but they aren’t the sort to rest on their laurels or let the grass grow beneath their fit. In that regard, they have grand company in Jadeja, the Rajput who uses his willow like a sword, bowls with intelligence and guile and is faster than the wind. He is among the fittest – he will run Kohli close, at the very least – and despite not being glamourous as his two immediate long-serving skippers, he is as crucial to India’s fortunes as the two right-handers.

India are fortunate that they are in a position to fall back on a plethora of pedigreed performers, but they have also been prudent enough to have succession plans in place so that there is no sudden vacuum. Rohit, Kohli and Jadeja all have big roles to play in that succession process.

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