Calls for Sharma to replace Kohli as India T20 skipper


NEW DELHI: India should embrace split-captaincy and put Rohit Sharma in charge of their T20 squad, several former cricketers said after the opener led Mumbai Indians to a fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) title on Tuesday.

Virat Kohli leads India across formats, while Rohit usually deputises for him in limited-overs cricket.

Rohit top-scored with a fluent 68 as Mumbai crushed Delhi Capitals in the final to cement their position as the IPL’s most successful team.

Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, who are yet to win an IPL title in 13 seasons, were eliminated in the playoffs

“If Rohit Sharma doesn’t become India captain, it’s their loss, not Rohit’s,” former test opener Gautam Gambhir told the ESPNcricinfo website. “Rohit has won five IPL titles, he is the most successful captain in the history of the tournament.

“It would be a shame if he is not made the white-ball captain after this. Because there’s nothing more Rohit Sharma can do.”

Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles, said Rohit was a significantly better captain than Kohli in these formats. “Why can’t you have split captaincy? It’s not a bad idea. I’m not suggesting Kohli is a terribly bad captain but both got the same platform and you can judge who’s better. For me, Rohit Sharma stands out as leader.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan felt delegating T20 captaincy to Rohit would help reduce Kohli’s workload.

“I honestly believe that the Indian team will be better off in Twenty20 cricket being led by Rohit Sharma,” Vaughan told Cricbuzz website, citing split-captaincy examples in England and Australia.

“Virat Kohli is superhuman. Giving away one aspect of his captaincy will free him up to be the 50-overs leader and the Test match leader.”

Vaughan also said relieving Kohli of the captaincy was not ‘an admittance of failure’, but rather ‘what is best for the Indian cricket team’.

Former India opener Virender Sehwag also described Rohit as ‘the best captain in the format’ on Twitter.

India leave for Australia this week to begin a two-week coronavirus quarantine before playing three Twenty20 Internationals, three One-day Internationals and four Tests.

Sharma has transformed Mumbai since taking over the captaincy from Australian great Ricky Ponting in 2013, and all five of their titles have come under his leadership.

Kohli’s Bangalore, however, bowed out in the playoffs this season — after two bottom-placed finishes in the previous three editions.

Sharma is not included in India’s one-day and T20 teams for Australia as he is recovering from a hamstring injury that saw him a miss several IPL games.

The 33-year-old will be part of the four Tests, however, while Kohli will miss three of them as he is taking paternity leave after the opening match in Adelaide.