3 Players Who Can Replace Rohit Sharma As India's Next T20I Captain
While India reached the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup 2022 - which is one step better than their group-stage exit last time - the manner of their loss to England in Adelaide has raised questions again on India’s conservative batting approach by the top three, and the potency in their bowling attack on good batting pitches.
Questions have also been raised over the future of skipper Rohit Sharma. Sharma not only had a poor tournament with the bat - an average of 19 and strike rate of 106 - also his captaincy was ordinary with some selections and bowling changes decisions being under the scanner.
Moving on, the next T20 World Cup is in 2024, by the time Sharma will be 37. Given Rohit’s fitness and injury struggles and the fact that he is a more crucial player in the other two formats, it would be imperative that the selectors decide on a new T20I captain soon enough and give the new skipper the time of 2 years to make a team of his choice and style.
Here are the 3 top choices to replace Rohit Sharma as India’s next T20I skipper:
Hardik Pandya is the fan-favorite choice to be India’s new T20I captain, even though the selectors may feel otherwise.
Two factors raise Pandya’s claim for T20I captain over other contenders. First, he’s a certain starter in the XI and since Pandya doesn’t play Tests anymore, he will be available and fit for white-ball matches.
Second, Hardik has proved himself to be a terrific leader by marching the Gujarat Titans to the IPL 2022 trophy, making the team look almost indomitable. Pandya has taken the calmness traits from MS Dhoni and the tactical nous from Rohit Sharma having played under both in the past.
So far, Pandya has 3 wins in 3 matches as India’s T20I captain this year, and will be leading the side in New Zealand later this month.
As mentioned above, for the selectors KL Rahul might be the first-choice next skipper, mainly because Rahul is the vice-captain, the current deputy to Rohit Sharma. However, there are plenty of red flags around KL Rahul as the captain.
To start off, KL Rahul is a three-format batter and is unlikely to play all the T20I series leading into the 2024 T20 WC. But importantly, KL Rahul’s captaincy for Punjab Kings and Lucknow Super Giants over the last three years has been largely under the cloud of not being fearless enough, as a captain and a batsman.
KL Rahul the T20 batsman, is already not the best of the players, approach-wise, in the shortest format. For the team to embrace an attacking, anti-conservative approach in T20 cricket, the skipper has to lead from the front, which KL Rahul at the moment doesn’t seem to want to do.
Under KL Rahul, India lost the Johannesburg Test and were blanked 3-0 by South Africa in ODIs.
Wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant has also been included in the leadership group of Team India this year. The Delhi Capitals skipper led India in the home T20I series against South Africa, which ended 2-2. And he has been named as Pandya’s deputy for the upcoming New Zealand T20I series wherein both Rohit and Rahul are rested.
Pant has a decent amount of IPL captaincy experience and led the Delhi Capitals to the playoffs in IPL 2021. Pant will remain in the selectors’ minds as a captaincy alternative, but at the moment is behind KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya in the pecking order.