Euro 2020 Special

Will BCCI Bite The Bullet And Make Hardik Pandya The T20 Captain?

After India’s semi-final exit from the T20 World Cup 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is on overdrive to revamp and reform India’s approach to the shortest format of the game. The BCCI has already fired the Selection Committee led by Chetan Sharma and has called for applications to reconstitute it with fresh faces. Meanwhile, the chances of India embracing split captaincy for its Men’s National Team for the first time in its history are ever increasing – with Hardik Pandya the prime candidate to take over the reins of the team from Rohit Sharma in T20s.


The Need For Split Captaincy

The amount of cricket that India play on a yearly basis has increased substantially in the past few years, with the Indian T20 League taking away a big part of the year from the team’s international calendar. No player, especially from India, is keen to miss out on any Indian T20 League games given its lucrative contracts and the sponsorship deals that come with the tournament. At the same time, the International Cricket Council has now scheduled a global event every year.

The length of both the World Cups and domestic T20 leagues are increasing, and as a result, players are succumbing to injuries and fatigue more frequently than before. This is especially true of senior players like Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, who are both core members of India’s team across formats. With calls for the BCCI to allow its players to participate in foreign T20 leagues, the workload for players is only going to increase in the future.

With high standards set by the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, donning the hat of India’s captain is a big task for any player. The BCCI has so far avoided appointing different full-time captains for different formats, opting to stick with its strategy of one captain across all formats. But at the same time, resting key players for some tours meant that numerous captains were appointed on a series-by-series basis – including Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul.


A Young Captain For Youngsters

This approach, however, has drawbacks that India is starting to realise only now. Not only are the captains that lead India in the World Cups different from the ones that lead India in the bilaterals, but so are the teams themselves. The Indian T20 League has brought to the front many youngsters who excel at the shortest format of the game but otherwise struggle to be effective in the longer formats.

As a result, India’s teams in T20 Internationals are much younger and more dynamic compared to the more mature and experienced Test and ODI sides. India needs to embrace this reality if it is to succeed in global events, as picking youngsters for bilaterals and dropping them for global events despite their terrific form doesn’t do the team or the players justice. This also warrants the need for a full-time captain for India’s T20 side, someone who is more in tune with the fast-paced nature of the game.


Hardik Pandya As Captain

One of India’s finest all-rounders, Hardik Pandya is the perfect man for the job. With regular and consistent performances with both the bat and the ball, Hardik Pandya is already a core player of the starting XI for the team. He has led Team Gujarat to their maiden Indian T20 League trophy this year – becoming the first captain to win the coveted trophy for his team in their inaugural year.

 He is well-respected by the youngsters in the team but also has been a part of Team India for so long that senior players know him well. This puts him in a unique position to balance both youth and experience in the team and make the difficult but right choices keeping in mind the team’s interests.

Under Hardik Pandya’s captaincy, India registered a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Ireland in T20Is earlier this year. The ongoing series against New Zealand has started on the right note for India with a win at Mount Maunganui, and the team’s fortunes in the series are likely to determine Hardik Pandya’s fate as well.


Injury Concerns

Hardik Pandya had to miss out on numerous games in his career due to injuries. Being a medium-fast bowler, he is more susceptible to injuries than Rohit Sharma, which puts India in a tight spot. If Hardik Pandya were to miss out on games due to injuries, the BCCI would have to again go back to the drawing board to appoint captains on a series-by-series basis.

There are also arguments coming from senior players not to split India’s captaincy and diminish the position’s authority among players. Any call regarding India’s T20 captain can only be taken by the new selection committee, and India’s roadmap for the ODI World Cup 2023 might take precedence over the T20 format for the next few months at least.




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