Euro 2020 Special

Is This The End Of The Road For Kohli, Rahul and Rohit In T20s For India?

The ongoing three-match T20I series between India and Sri Lanka marks the dawn of a new era for the shortest format of the game in India, with the team finally looking to move past seniors who have dominated the batting lineup for more than a decade. After a disastrous campaign in the T20 World Cup 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is keen to move on from its reliance on seniors to rescue the Men in Blue, preferring to nurture young talent in the format.

While it is no doubt that Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are excellent players in T20s, they are well past their prime and it is clear that they do not fit well into the team’s overall structure. As Team India embarks on their quest for international trophies over the next two years, we take a look at what the move might mean for Kohli, Rohit and Rahul in the format:


Shift in Direction

After their exit from the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in 2022, it is clear that the Men in Blue need a shift in both direction and approach to the game. Despite boasting the most competitive domestic T20 league in the world, India have failed to win a single major trophy in the shortest format of the game for the past fifteen years. While India’s record in Tests and ODIs has been extraordinary over the past few years, there has been a failure in replicating that success in T20Is.

Part of the reason for this failure is the tight schedule that keeps Indian players occupied for most of the year. With India regularly playing back-to-back tours that involve a lot of red-ball matches, the seniors of the team need to be often rested to ensure their fitness. Over the past two years, India has adopted a dual-team format that sees a team full of youngsters play against lightweight opponents like New Zealand and Sri Lanka, while the first-choice team is reserved for ICC tournaments and Tests.

This approach has raised criticism from various quarters as India’s seniors enter ICC tournaments without much experience over the preceding months, leading to poor form. The approach is also unfair to India’s youngsters who go to great lengths to prove their case in bilateral series, only to be ignored by the selectors for major tournaments.


Rise of New Players

With India overhauling the Selection Committee in December, there is likely to be a fundamental change in approach to the shortest format of the game. The brilliant form of players like Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav has reduced the need for Virat Kohli and KL Rahul in the team. Hardik Pandya has matured as a captain in the shortest format, with Rohit Sharma’s slump in form in the format also bolstering Pandya’s case for appointment as India’s full-time captain in T20s.

Among the three seniors, only Virat Kohli has proved himself in the T20 World Cup – especially by producing one of the finest innings of his career against Pakistan. While there is a potential to be extracted from India’s ex-captain, it is uncertain if he will be able to replicate that success going forward. Rohit Sharma also might be given a few more opportunities to lead the team as he is India’s full-time captain across all formats, but the new selection committee could decide to change the captaincy at any time.

It certainly looks like the end of the road for both KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan in T20Is. Both players have failed to spark in any of the fixtures they were a part of. India now have players who can attack from the very first ball, unlike Rahul who takes his time to settle into the field – costing the team precious balls in the powerplay.


ODI World Cup 2023

The message from India’s management to the three senior players is now clear – focus on Test cricket and ODIs. While there has been no official communication from the board or the selection committee, various interviews done by the selection committee members reveal the same.

The ODI World Cup 2023 in October will be the best chance for all three players to end their long careers on a high note. If India manage to win back the trophy after a gap of 12 years, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s legacy will enter the country’s hall of fame. Rohit Sharma is likely to continue in his role as the team’s captain in One-Day Internationals until the World Cup, especially with the unfortunate accident that occurred to Rishabh Pant last week. As such, his position in the team is secure despite poor form.

Virat Kohli is slowly regaining his form in his favourite format, where he was once considered the greatest player in the history of the game. A century against Bangladesh in December finally broke his long wait for an international hundred – and he will be eager to be an integral part of the team’s plans for the ODI World Cup.


Indian T20 League

While it might be the end of the road for the three players in T20Is, their domestic careers in the format are far from over. All three players are captains of teams in the Indian T20 League and are highly valued by the franchises for their sheer popularity across the country. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are the top scorers in the history of the Indian T20 League, while KL Rahul finished last season as the second-highest run scorer of the tournament.

A brilliant performance in the Indian T20 League could force the selectors to have a relook at the trio after the summer, especially if India’s youngsters fail to convert their dynamism into consistency.

India is ready to move on from the seniors in the T20 Internationals, but in the absence of any official communication, there is still a door open for the trio to make their way back into the team.




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