Rohit makes a strong case for permanent captaincy
Indian players celebrate their seventh Asia Cup title victory after beating Bangladesh in the final in Dubai on Friday night.
Dubai - Rohit has won 14 of the 16 matches across formats and has seven victories in eight ODIs
Indian captain Virat Kohli's absence during the just concluded Asia Cup may have been a blessing in disguise as the team have unearthed a 'back-up' skipper, so to speak.
India's hectic schedule had meant Kohli seeking home comforts before the West Indies came calling at home, with the reins being handed to his deputy Rohit Sharma. And the Mumbaikar has done more than just keeping the seat warm for Kohli, the Asia Cup being his fourth series win as captain.
Rohit has won 14 of the 16 matches across formats and has seven victories in eight ODIs, which includes the Asia Cup. And he hasn't been bogged down by the sheer weight of the role, having plundered 317 runs in five innings in the Asia Cup, just 25 runs adrift of opening partner and Asia Cup Man of the Series Shikhar Dhawan.
The 31-year-old has quite clearly made a case for the role in case India opt to reduce the burden on Kohli, who captains India in all three formats. There could come a time when Rohit, a permanent feature in limited-overs, but not a central figure in Tests, could be given the ODI and T20 captaincy so that Kohli can focus on the pinnacle that is Test cricket.
He has snuck into the role like and hand into glove and the numbers clearly speak for themselves. And Rohit was open to the idea of him being a permanent skipper in the future.
When asked whether he was ready to be captain in the future, Rohit laughed and said: "Definitely. We have just won so I will surely be ready. Whenever the opportunity comes, I'll be ready."
Rohit said that having India's most successful captain, MS Dhoni, by his side has been a massive plus and he has imbibed a few lessons from the man.
"We learn a lot from him because he's been such a good captain. Whenever there were questions or doubts on the field, he was always there to answer. What I've seen of him leading for all these years, he never panicked, took time while taking decision and then would take it. There are those similarities in me too. I also try to first think and then react. Yes, 50-over cricket gives you time, but you need to take time as well. I've learnt this from seeing him, we've played for so many years under his captaincy. Whenever there's something, he is ready with advice," explained Rohit.
Rohit will not just hand the baton back to Kohli but will have to ensure the transfer of power happens seamlessly. He admitted that is a challenge to step in as captain but said that the team dynamic is such that the transition will be smooth.
"It's a challenge for any team when few of your seniors are rested. Obviously, they'll make a comeback and few of the other guys will have to miss out. That's been the hallmark of this cricketing fraternity. Every team is doing that, and guys understand that. It's upto them that whenever they get an opportunity, they make it big and they make it count. But for us as a captain or coach, we've got to make sure they have the liberty to play their game and not to feel pressure," he said.
"Of course I've led India before, not for a while but in just one-off tournaments, I understand the dynamics of this team, how we play cricket and how we want to go forward as a team. Taking everything into consideration, we wanted to move forward. I think in this tournament I can say that we ticked all boxes. That's the challenge now when we go and play wherever we go and play, to keep continuing to tick those boxes and get better as a team," added Rohit.
Rohit first captained India against Sri Lanka in the ODI and T20 series last year after Kohli was rested with the South Africa series in mind. He led them to a 2-1 win in the ODIs and 3-0 in the T20Is. He also led India to victory in the Nidahas Trophy in March this year.