Rohit ‘ready in the wings’ to take over India T20I captaincy

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Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri tip the multiple-time IPL winner to take the reins as they sign off

India’s selectors have not yet sat down with new coach Rahul Dravid to decide who the next T20I captain should be but the outgoing captain and coach have made an endorsement for Rohit Sharma.
Virat Kohli announced in September that he would step down from the T20I captaincy after the World Cup at a time of transition for India, with Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar also leaving their respective roles as head coach, bowling coach and fielding coach. Speaking at the toss during India’s game against Namibia, Kohli said it had been “an honour” to captain India, and hinted that Rohit was primed to be become his successor.

“It’s been an honour for me,” he said. “I was given the opportunity and I tried to do my best. It’s also time for me to create some space and prioritise things moving forward and unfortunately, the shortest format of the game has to give way to the longer formats.

“I’ve been immensely proud of how the team has played and also grateful for the opportunity to have led the Indian cricket team in the T20 format for so many years, and now I think it’s time for the next lot to take this team format. Obviously Rohit is here, he’s [been] overlooking [overseeing] things for a while now. We’ll always be the leaders in the group but [it’s] also a milestone moment for Indian cricket, especially moving forwards.”

Shastri, meanwhile, said that Rohit was “ready in the wings” to take over as T20I captain, and suggested that while India will “always have a strong team” in the format due to the depth of talent showcased by the IPL, following a split-captaincy model is “not such a bad thing” due to the national team’s fixture congestion.

“This was the right time for me to manage my workload. It’s been six, seven years of intense cricket every time we take the field and it takes a lot out of you”

Virat Kohli

“It’s not such a bad thing because of the bubble and because of the amount of cricket being played,” Shastri said at his post-match press conference. “The players need to be rotated around and given the space they need to spend some time with their families and see their parents. When a guy doesn’t go home for six months, he might have his [close] family with him, but if he’s got parents and other family and you don’t get a chance to see them, it’s not easy at all.

“It’s not such a bad thing and I think in Rohit you’ve got a very capable guy, he’s won so many IPLs, he’s the vice-captain of this side. He’s ready in the wings to take that job. As far as the T20 team goes, I think we’ll always have a strong team. We might have not won this World Cup but I think going forward you’ll continue to have a very strong team because the IPL throws a lot of young players into the mix. Rahul [Dravid] will have his own ideas on how to take this team forwards and I see it still being a very good team.”

Kohli reiterated at the post-match presentation that it was “the right time” to step away from the T20I captaincy in order to manage his workload, and insisted that he would keep his intensity on the field despite giving up the job.

“It’s been an honour, but things have to be kept in the right perspective,” he said. “This was the right time for me to manage my workload. It’s been six, seven years of intense cricket every time we take the field and it takes a lot out of you. It’s been great fun, great bunch of guys and we’ve really performed well as a team.

“I know we have not gone far in this World Cup, but we have had some good results in T20 and enjoyed playing together. It’s a game of margins, T20 cricket. You talk about two overs of cricket with intent in the first two games and things could have been different. We were not brave enough, as I said. We are not a team that will give excuse of tosses.

“[My intensity] is never going to change. If I can’t do that I will not play anymore. Even when I wasn’t captain before I was always keen to see where the game is going. I’m not going to stand around and do nothing.”

Kohli did not bat in his final game as captain, demoting himself to No. 4, and explained that he had wanted Suryakumar Yadav to “take back some good memories” from the World Cup after limited opportunities in the middle throughout the tournament. “Surya didn’t get much time,” he said. “It’s a T20 World Cup and I thought it might be a nice memory for him to take back.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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