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Rohit Sharma the Man of the Moment as Balance of Power Shifts in Indian Cricket

Rohit Sharma named the new ODI captain

Rohit Sharma named the new ODI captain

These are good times for Rohit Sharma, popularly known as 'Hitman'. Only time will tell if the selection committee hands over the captaincy across all formats to him in the near future.

Rohit Sharma could be on the brink of becoming India’s captain across all formats. The outcome of the three-Test series in South Africa and his personal form in the series in the Southern Hemisphere could hasten or delay — as a consequence of his elevation as captain for the limited overs teams — the inevitable.

On Wednesday, the BCCI released a statement saying that the national selection committee has named Sharma captain of the Indian team for ODI cricket going forward. After Virat Kohli gave up the national Twenty20 captaincy at the conclusion of the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 in the UAE, the selection committee named Sharma captain of the Twenty20 team that beat New Zealand 3-0. Sharma has also been named vice-captain of the Test team.

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Former India stumper and chairman of the selection committee, Kiran More, welcomed the development. He told news18.com: “For the ODIs and T20s, it’s a very good call. I will not disturb him (Virat Kohli) as the Test team captain. Virat has captained India in two World Cups (50 overs in England and Twenty20 in the UAE). Virat’s bilateral records are superb, but you need to win ICC events. That’s important. I think it’s a good move by the selectors. Virat can lead in Test matches and Rohit in white-ball format. I am happy with this arrangement. This should have happened a long time back. There was a lot of pressure on Virat in all formats. It took its toll. At least one format should have gone to Rohit earlier."

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With regard to Ajinkya Rahane being stripped of his position as vice-captain of the Test team, More said: “Ajinkya still has a lot of time in Test cricket. He is a quality player. Definitely he has to perform, because there is a lot of competition. He has scored important and crucial knocks when needed in Australia, South Africa and England. He has played quality knocks, and he is there in the team as a batter."

But it is Sharma around whom the noise is all about now, following the selection committee’s decision to split captaincy — white ball and red ball. Sharma is an opening batter and the weight of the runs he scores against the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Co. could influence the national committee to bring upon a finality to naming one person as captain of the Indian team. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kohli had a good run helming the team across all formats. Sharma should fancy his chances now that he is leader of two-thirds of the three formats.

The Mumbai batter, Sharma, is 34. He has reached a point in time in his career that only his energy, enthusiasm and form with the bat will determine the span of time he will be able to stretch it. But the recent developments post the unfinished Test series in England and the ICC Men’s World Twenty20, has thrown sufficient hints that the powers that be in the BCCI and its advisors, and there are quite a few names of former cricketers going around, and the national selection committee is ready to give a new direction to the national team.

The World Test Championship (WTC) final that India lost to New Zealand and the Test series in England that created all the negative news around Ravichandran Ashwin being ignored right through the Test series have not gone down well with the people who call the shots in the BCCI. Anyway, people in the BCCI were waiting for the first opportunity to strike to dismantle the system — administration and cricket — established by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators with former CAG Vinod Rai in the chair.

Rahul Johri and a number of executives are out of the Cricket Centre and thereby the BCCI. And after the failed campaign in the UAE in the ICC Men’s World Twenty20, a new coaching staff barring batting coach Vikram Rathore has taken charge under former India captain and NCA head Rahul Dravid.

The all-encompassing structure in Indian cricket would be completed should Sharma replace Kohli as the Test team captain. It is not the first time that the balance of power has shifted from one individual to another. It’s actually fifty years now when Vijay Merchant did what was imagined to be impossible then; as chairman of the selection committee, he named Ajit Wadekar as captain for the 1971 tour of the West Indies, replacing Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, also known as the Nawab of Pataudi or simply ‘Tiger’. Thereafter, captaincy issues have chased many famous names.

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Kohli took over the captaincy cares from Dhoni; first in Test cricket in Adelaide and Sydney in the winter of 2014. Kohli has had a captaincy run in ODIs from July 2013. He has led in 95 matches. He was captain in Twenty20 from January 2011 till the World Twenty20 in the UAE.

With the ICC World Cup 2023 to be held in India, it is generally believed that Sharma will lead the team then. But, his first chance in a big event will come in October- November 2022 in the T20 World Cup in Australia. Sharma has excelled with the bat in white-ball cricket and is trying to seal his stamp in Test cricket. These are good times for Sharma, popularly known as ‘Hitman’. Only time will tell if the selection committee hands over the captaincy across all formats to him in the near future. He has led India in 10 ODIs and 22 Twenty20 internationals.

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first published:December 09, 2021, 14:40 IST