'No better time': Rohit and Kohli retire from T20 internationals after India's World Cup triumph

The world cup-winning skipper departs the format as the highest ever scorer in T20 internationals with 4,231 runs; Kohli is second with 4,188 runs.
India's Virat Kohli, left, and captain Rohit Sharma pose with the winners trophy after defeating South Africa in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
India's Virat Kohli, left, and captain Rohit Sharma pose with the winners trophy after defeating South Africa in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.Photo | AP

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli announced their retirement from Twenty20 internationals after India's thrilling seven-run win over South Africa in the T20 World Cup final in Barbados on Saturday.

Kohli was the first to declare his decision after being adjudged player of the match for his sublime 76 in the seven-run win over South Africa in the final here. Soon after, Rohit also announced that, having achieved what he came for, it was time to step aside.

Kohli had been on a run of low scores before he starred in the final, scoring 76 and was named player of the match. "This was my last T20 World Cup and this is exactly what we wanted to achieve. This is an amazing game. I was telling Rohit (Sharma) when we went out to bat, I was like, one day you feel like you can't get a run and then you come out and then things happen. God is great," the 35-year-old Kohli told host broadcasters Star Sports after bagging the player of the match award.

"Now or never (that was my) last T20 for India, wanted to make the most of it. I wanted to respect the situation rather than force it."

Kohli, pressed on whether he had played his last T20 international, added at the presentation ceremony: "This was an open secret, it's time for the next generation to take over, some amazing players will take the team forward and keep the flag waving high."

Former India captain Kohli, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, scored more on Saturday than he had in the rest of the tournament.

Prior to the showpiece match at the Kensington Oval, he had managed just 75 runs in seven innings during the competition.

India's Virat Kohli, left, and captain Rohit Sharma pose with the winners trophy after defeating South Africa in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
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Rohit, who opened the innings alongside Kohli, had been the team's form batsman leading into the final with 248 runs, including three fifties, at an average of over 41.

He departs the format as the highest ever scorer in T20 internationals with 4,231 runs; Kohli is second with 4,188 runs.

Rohit's five centuries in T20 internationals are unmatched and he has also won two T20 World Cup titles: winning the first edition as a player in 2007 and now as captain in 2024.

"This was my last (T20i) game as well. There is no better time to say goodbye to this format," Rohit told the post-game press conference.

"I've loved every moment of this. I started my India career playing this format. This is what I wanted; I wanted to win the Cup," he said.

"I wanted this badly. Very hard to put in words. It was a very emotional moment for me. I was very desperate for this title in my life. I'm happy that we eventually crossed the line," he said.

While Rohit has been the dominant India batsman in this tournament, where Kohli has struggled for runs, it was a case of role reversal on Saturday, with Rohit out for nine as India slumped to 34-3.

Kohli, however, rebuilt the innings during a stand of 72 with Axar Patel (47) that helped take India to 176-7, before a superb bowling and fielding display restricted South Africa to 169-8.

"None of us doubted him; we know his quality," said Rohit of Kohli, who bowed out of T20 internationals with 4,188 runs in 117 innings, including one hundred and 38 fifties, at an average of nearly 49.

"He has been at the top of his game for 15 years now. Big players will step up in big occasions and he played a crucial knock today.

"It was a team effort to get to that total but we knew we needed someone to bat time and he did that perfectly, using all his experience," added Rohit.

The game also marked the final match in charge for India T20 coach and former skipper Rahul Dravid, who was bounced in the air by the team during the celebrations.

"I'm very happy for Rahul; he has done so much for Indian cricket, including when he was playing and now coaching," said Rohit.

"He has worked so hard with this time for three years, supported the team a lot and understood what the boys needed," he added.

(With inputs from AFP, PTI)

India's Virat Kohli, left, and captain Rohit Sharma pose with the winners trophy after defeating South Africa in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
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