In what could be seen as the confirmation of Virat Kohli’s successor for India’s T20 captaincy, outgoing head coach Ravi Shastri threw his weight behind vice-captain Rohit Sharma on Monday. He called Rohit Sharma a “very capable leader”, saying he’s all but ready to take over the job after the T20 World Cup.
Ravi Shastri and Kohli ended their respective tenures as head coach and T20I captain on a high by easily defeating Namibia by nine wickets in Dubai. While Rohit Sharma is likely to be the next captain – given the upcoming twin World Cups – there has been no official confirmation from any team member or the BCCI yet.
Ravi Shastri was asked in a post-match press conference for his opinion on the impact of the split captaincy in Indian cricket, with the reporter not naming anyone for T20I leadership. In reply, Shastri spoke in favor of the rotation, saying it will allow players a breather. The head coach then went on to talk about Rohit Sharma and his IPL credentials, thus giving an insight into the stakeholders’ thinking.
Ravi Shastri said:
“I think it’s not such a bad thing because of the bubble and the amount of cricket being played. The players need to be rotated around and given the space, they need to spend some time with their families, see their parents. As I said, when a guy doesn’t go home for six months, he might have his family with him, but if he’s got parents and other family and you don’t get a chance to see them, it’s not easy at all. So I think it’s not such a bad thing. I think in Rohit you’ve got a very capable guy, he’s won so many IPLs and he’s the vice-captain of this side. He’s ready in the wings to take that job.”
Ravi Shastri further said the Indian T20I team are still a ‘strong’ one, despite their early ouster from the World Cup. He backed his successor, Rahul Dravid, to bring his ideas and take the team forward.
“And as far as the T20 team goes, I think we’ll always have a strong team. We might have not won a World Cup but going forward you’ll continue to have a very strong team because the IPL throws a lot of young players into the mix. You know, Rahul will have his own ideas on how to take this team forward and I see it still being a very good team.”
His batting records aside, Rohit Sharma is the most successful captain in the history of IPL with as many as five titles on his shelf. He has also led India in 19 T20Is, winning 15 and losing just four. Captaincy also seems to bring out the best in his batting. The 34-year-old has scored 712 runs as captain, averaging 41.88 – almost 9 points higher than his overall aggregate.
“That might be the way to go” – Ravi Shastri in favor of playing all-rounders in top-order
Ravi Shastri also discussed India’s over-dependence on Hardik Pandya for all-round skills. He said that going forward, India could look to ensure that some of the top-order batters can also contribute with the ball, at least in T20Is.
Ravi Shastri concluded by saying:
“It always helps when you have one or two players in the top order who can bowl. You know, we have always had that in the past. Unfortunately, we don’t have too many now so that might be the way to go – you know, to ensure that in the top six you have a couple of guys who can roll their arm over even if it’s four overs between them. That’ll help.”
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Rahul Dravid will take over from Ravi Shastri in India’s upcoming series against New Zealand, which will begin on November 17. The squad announcement for this series will also rubber-stamp India’s next T20I captain and reveal the thinking of the selectors.