Rohit named T20 skipper, Kohli returns for Afghanistan series

The two senior players last appeared in a T20 for India in the 2022 T20 World Cup semifinal against England


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Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. — PTI
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. — PTI

Published: Sun 7 Jan 2024, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 7 Jan 2024, 10:01 PM

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli on Sunday made a comeback to India’s T20 squad for the three-match home series against Afghanistan.

Rohit was also named captain for the series beginning in Mohali on January 11.

The two senior players last appeared in a T20 for India in the World Cup semifinal against England in November 2022.

Back then, the two veterans along with KL Rahul were criticised for their conservative batting approach in the powerplay.

The experts felt the team needed to move on from that approach with Hardik Pandya earmarked as the new T20 skipper.

However, Pandya's injury in the ODI World Cup along and more recently, Suryakumar Yadav's ligament tear, resulted in a lot of inexperience at the top of the order.

It was reported last week that the Ajit Agarkar-led selection panel was set to pick the celebrated duo for the Afghanistan series.

“Decisions on Rohit and Virat can't solely be taken by the selection committee. There is a lot at stake, broadcasters, sponsors and you can't pick one and drop the other. Ajit and his team needed to maintain a status quo,” a former India selector said.

While Rohit's chances of leading India in the T20 World Cup has considerably brightened, the development comes across as a big blow to Hardik's captaincy ambitions at the global event in June.

The T20 squad also features Sanju Samson and Jitesh Sharma, who will be the two glovesmen with Ishan Kishan being ignored for the shortest format.

“Ishan wasn't happy that he was travelling without much game time. He is on a break right now. In any case, selectors are in all likelihood are looking beyond Kishan.

“It will be interesting if he is picked for England Test series where KS Bharat will be back behind the stumps,” a BCCI source said.

Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja, the two Test team certainties, have been rested and Ruturaj Gaikwad isn't fit to play yet.

All-rounder Shivam Dube has also been named in the squad in Hardik's absence.

The Afghanistan series will be India's last before the World Cup, which takes place right after the IPL.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith reckons leaving out the likes of Rohit and Kohli from any team is extremely tough.

“I wouldn't want to be a selector. It's a very tough decision to leave out two players who have been incredible. Virat always comes back incredibly well. With the amount of talent that India has now, it is a difficult choice to make,” said Smith on the sidelines of an interaction organised ahead of SA20.

India's squad:

Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.

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