Rohit Sharma is the most successful IPL captain in history with five trophies. Anyone who follows their captain closely – outsiders like me and players who play under him – proves that they are tactically smart and that there are few who read the game better than him. He stays calm under pressure, setting up his troops with a sense of control, and making the most radical changes to the flow of the game without making them look radical at all.
Captaincy is made up of two equally important parts: one, the ability to read the game so that you are at least a few overs ahead (in white ball cricket), and two, recognizing your instincts and sticking to it if you can are convinced. A good captain has no ego and likes to take his leadership group on board for many decisions, but has the confidence to override them if he thinks otherwise.
Sharma ticks all of these criteria, and while the Mumbai Indians’ success depends a lot on their auction strategy and talent scouting, it’s about leadership both on and off the field.
If he’s such a successful IPL captain, wouldn’t it be natural to make him the captain of the Indian T20I team too? If players are selected for India for their performance in the shortest format IPL, why should it be any different for the captain?
Just that it’s not the same – never. And to be fair, it shouldn’t be, unless there’s a captain who fails with his playful skills in format while leading the Indian T20I team.
After Mumbai’s fifth IPL title, some former cricketers were shouting to replace Virat Kohli with Sharma as captain in the shortest format. Their argument is that Kohli’s record as captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore is pretty bad and that that should be enough to make the change for India as well.
Sharma has won five titles and won 60% of all his games as the Mumbai Indian captain. On the other hand, Kohli’s team never won the IPL. and RCB have won almost 47 of their games under their captain. The argument against Kohli is that since Sharma not only wins more games but also knows how to win knockout games, Sharma should lead India into the next T20 World Cup.
Let’s take a closer look at Kohli’s return as captain, and then the merits of a possible change.
Kohli as the Indian captain in ODIs has won 72% of his games; in T20I this number is around 65%. If we narrow it down further in the shortest format, its win share has risen to 75% since early 2019 – 12 wins out of 16 games.
MS Dhoni is arguably India’s most successful captain with limited oversights, with a T20 World Cup, a 50 Over World Cup and a Champions Trophy title – the only captain in the world to have all three. Dhoni’s profit share in T20Is and ODIs is around 60%. Putting Kohli’s return as captain of India alongside Dhoni’s performance is impossible to put holes in.
While some argue that bilateral cricket doesn’t matter, others say Kohli’s numbers are as good as her just because India is such a strong team that the captain doesn’t have much of a sway on their share of the profits. To answer these two caveats: since Kohli did not attend an ICC event in T20Is, we should only view his recordings in bilateral series. And beating both New Zealand and England in their backyards has to count for something. The two ICC events at which he led India also made it to the finals once and the semifinals the other time. These aren’t bad results. As for the second point, if Kohli is a good captain with a good crew under him, if he’s leading India, it may be the crew at RCB that needs to be changed, and not the captain.
Of course, winning the trophy is all that is important for a team of India’s caliber, but let’s remember that this is not easy even for the best captains. While Dhoni won the first Word T20, he led many other world championships in the format but failed to win the trophy again. Is that a slight impairment to his captaincy? Not at all, because that’s how it is at the highest level.
Going back to the argument that Kohli has a good team under him when he leads India, it’s understandable if some of the blame for RCB’s poor results is on him, but what does that mean to his performance Do captain of india? ? Given his 47 win percentage, RCB may not want him to continue as captain, but he may still remain as captain.
It’s important that we understand that we are not stakeholders in franchise teams that are always run the way their bosses want them to be. They have every right to take the direction that suits their cause and they are under no obligation to make the reasons for their decisions known to the public. If you don’t like their ideas, stop following them. However, the Indian team is different. We are stakeholders in following India.
We, the fans of the sport and former cricketers and experts, should learn to separate the two – international and franchise cricket. Indian players must be judged on their performance for India alone – captain or otherwise. For example, would you remove proven international artists like Jasprit Bumrah or KL Rahul from the Indian T20I team if they had a bad IPL? The answer is an overwhelming no as they were excellent for India in the T20I format and will replace all franchise cricketers.
Given that Kohli took over the captaincy role when Dhoni moved on, it is only fair that he should run as long as his performances as the Indian captain’s captain. His lack of IPL success must not affect his chances of a leadership at his first ICC T20I event. The fact that Kohli had no fuss over the appointment when he took on Dhoni shows you that Sharma wasn’t really competing for the job back then.
If Kohli wins the next World T20 and more ICC trophies, it is possible that Sharma at the highest level will never get a jump on the captain. That will be unfortunate, but it will be that he will be born in the wrong time. Amol Muzumdar scored tons of runs and Rajinder Goel and Padmakar Shivalkar took truckloads of wickets, but all three unfortunately never got a chance to play for India. And that was because India was blessed with the batsmen of the Fab Four in Muzumdar’s time and with Bishan Singh Bedi and other good nuts in Goels and Shivalkar’s time.
As much as it is about being fair to Kohli (who has won 12 of his last 16 responsible T20Is), it is also about being fair to Sharma. If the selectors decide to reach out to him to run India in T20Is, they must give him enough time to build the team he wants to build. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was the Mumbai Indians, and so was Sharma’s India team.
India national cricket team, Australian men’s cricket team, One Day International, Virat Kohli, test cricket
EbeneMagazine – GB – Should Rohit Sharma be the T20I captain of Virat Take over Kohli?