India going from Virat Kohli to Rohit Sharma, a simple shifting of the baton in a healthy system


Conspiracy theories are rife since Virat Kohli put a timer on his T20I captaincy tenure for India on Thursday (September 16), stating he will relinquish the leadership post after the coming T20 World Cup in UAE.

Kohli’s decision could have been respectfully accepted and he be appreciated for recognising the future welfare of the T20I side. But no. What we have had are misleading theories around his removal and extensive debates among people who claim themselves to be cricket fans.

You can be few things more worthless in life than being some player’s “warrior” over social media who ruins the entire cricketing discourse with his/her absurdity. It is this fan culture that gives birth to misleading reports and meaningless claims.

There is no point blindly aiming at things and creating issues out of non-issues, especially when you’ll never be privy to the discussions that goes behind such decisions. In that case, it is only wise to trust the word of the gents who are serving Indian cricket and Virat Kohli being the leader of this pack, deserves that trust and respect the most.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli won 27 of his 45 matches as India’s T20I skipper.

If he says “workload” has had a major role behind his decision, there is more merit in believing the man who has given his heart and soul to this team than incapable people who cultivate these theories for their benefit.

Kohli has been playing non-stop cricket and is only looking to shed some of the weight off his shoulders. He is not retiring from T20I cricket, he only wants to free up some space for himself as an all-format batsman and skipper in Tests and ODIs.

“Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three formats and captaining regularly for last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian Team in Test and ODI Cricket,” he said in an honest admission.

“I have given everything to the Team during my time as T20 Captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 Team as a batsman moving forward.”

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli has has an excellent record as a T20I batsman.

Virat Kohli aiming to shed some of his excessive workload

Kohli is such that he will never take the field disinterested or not willing to put himself through the firing line for the team. But this decision gives him some breathing space, a luxury unafforded to the captain who has to look after the team, its on and off-field workings, deal with administrators, the media while trying to find some space to look after his own self. Every game. It’s an arduous task, captaincy, that is just as physically taxing as it is mentally draining.

If Virat Kohli feels this is the better way forward for him and India, let’s respect the man and his decision. And it is also a sign of a healthy cricket system that he can step aside without worrying too much about the consequences or the transition ahead.

While it is not official yet, India are most likely to elevate Rohit Sharma to the captaincy post. Rohit is 34, alright. But a senior, experienced member of the side who walks into the XI, and one with impressive captaincy credentials. Rohit has stepped up to the table whenever required and kept India successful, winning 15 of his 19 matches as a T20I skipper. His captaincy record with Mumbai Indians (MI) is unprecedented. Besides, the next T20 World Cup after the coming one is less than 14 months away and you don’t make long-term calls in T20s, short-term plugs often suffice in this fast-paced format.

And it is anyway not so much about the captaincy but the system that is rich with resources for the selectors and the team management to pick and choose from. The IPL – which is backed up a level below by a state-based tournament like Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 – does a great service in this regard, throwing up finest of talents that can come in and immediately leave their mark.

Since the last T20 World Cup, India have played 72 matches and won 45 of those, losing only 22. It will highly likely not change in the next five-year phase as well irrespective of who India appoint as captain. This is, again, not a case of opinion but a strong indication presented by stats and facts.

India have won 43 of their 67 T20Is since Kohli officially took over as full-time T20I captain from MS Dhoni. Of the 22 matches that he hasn’t played, India have won 16 – in a format as fickle as it is, that is telling of India’s all-round team strength and a strong reflection of how systematic robustness overpowers captaincy and tactical nous in impact.

India going from Kohli to Rohit or anyone else is not going to make too much of a difference to their T20I fortunes ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup, especially with Kohli still available and scoring runs. They’ll enter the next fickle tournament of a fickle format just as prepared/unprepared as their systematic strength currently allows them to.

As captain, Kohli won almost twice as many T20I matches as his team lost. He topped the run-charts in these 45 fixtures, averaging 48.05 with a strike-rate of 143.18 for 1,502 runs – an incredible record of an incredible player and immensely successful skipper.

But if you still want to believe on conspiracy theories of a forced removal, you are just as much at fault as people who create and feed you these theories. Respect the great batsman’s decision and move on.

A cricket writer by heart and profession. Currently at work for CricXtasy. Previously with Circle of Cricket. You can find him on Twitter @crickashish217