Time has perhaps come for India to ponder split captaincy

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on November 11, 2020
Rohit Sharma, who was appointed MI captain in 2013, has led them in 117 matches, winning 68 and losing 47. (IPL)

Gambhir said it would be India’s loss and not Rohit’s if he wasn’t installed at the helm

The murmurs began in the UAE two years ago and the voices have only grown louder and begun to echo in the desert. The Asia Cup was the audition and IPL 2020 may well turn out to be the becoming of Rohit Sharma as India’s captain.

Soon after Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit lifted the IPL trophy for a record fifth time, former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir and former England captain Michael Vaughan threw their weight behind the Mumbaikar to be India’s lead man in the limited-over formats — ODIs and T20Is.

Gambhir, who led the Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014, went on to say that it would be India’s loss and not Rohit’s if he wasn’t installed at the helm.

Vaughan, who helped England reclaim the Ashes in that famous 2005 series following an 18-year drought, felt that Rohit becoming the T20 captain will reduce the workload on Kohli’s shoulders.

And the 33-year-old Rohit has a strong case for it and the numbers to back it up, with the sustained success with MI reinforcing the point.

It has been an on and off role and Rohit’s journey in the hot seat began in 2017 when incumbent Virat Kohli, who currently leads India in all three formats, was rested. And Rohit started off by winning the ODIs and T20Is against Sri Lanka with 2-1 and 3-0 margins respectively. Also, under him, India went on to claim the Nidahas Trophy in March that year.

He then went on to guide India to the Asia Cup title held here in the UAE in 2018, where he plundered 317 runs in five innings, just 25 adrift of his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, who was named the Man of the Series.

The numbers tell the story.

As far as T20Is are concerned, since 2017, Rohit has captained India in 19 matches, won 15 and lost only four, while in the same period, Kohli has skippered Team Blue in 37 games, won 22 and lost 11.

In ODIs, Rohit has won eight of the 10 matches with just two defeats, while Kohli has led in 89, won 62 and lost 24.

Coming to the IPL, Rohit, who was appointed captain in 2013, has led them in 117 matches, winning 68 and losing 47. And one can’t overlook the fact that Rohit has won plenty of silverware.

On the other hand, an IPL title proves to be elusive for Kohli, who has led the Royal Challengers Bangalore in eight seasons.

It is not to say that Kohli is a bad captain. But with the numbers in Rohit’s favour, it clearly makes sense to hand over the baton and it will also reduce the heavy workload and the immense pressure Kohli goes through while leading in all three formats. He’s soon going to be a father too.

The BCCI has been loath to split captaincy but perhaps the time has come to ponder about it for the good of Indian cricket.

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