CHENNAI: At 5:53 PM on Thursday, Virat Kohi broke the news. Once India's upcoming T20 World Cup campaign ends in the UAE in November, he will step down as skipper of the national team in the format. It had been coming.
He cited the immense workload he has endured since taking over as all-format captain in 2017. However, the 32-year-old wrote that he would be available as a batsman going forward. Like how his predecessor, MS Dhoni, passed the baton to him, Kohli has done it now.
If anyone occupies the hot seat other than Rohit Sharma, the decorated T20 captain who has a record five IPL titles to his name, it would come as a massive surprise. Never mind the fact that Rohit is 34, but with another T20 World Cup slated for October 2022, it is hard to see selectors handing over the reigns to an untested candidate.
If Kohli, who has led the side to 27 wins in 45 matches, was waiting in the wings in 2017, Rohit is in that position now. With every IPL title he has held aloft for Mumbai Indians, he has been sending gentle reminders.
So why the change? Workload aside, the emergence of Rohit as an all-format player and his growing stature in the team and the tactical acumen he brings too have played a big role. On Thursday, if Kohli did show ambition by wanting to continue as ODI captain with the 2023 World Cup in mind, Rohit too has been having his eyes on the role. In the past 12 months, Rohit's calm demeanour in the dressing room and his influence among the team has only been on the ascendance. That has also added some pressure from within.
By coming out in the open, Kohli, who has lost only one T20I series as captain (against Australia in India in early 2019) has put an end to this episode. However, it is only for the time-being because all things point to Rohit taking charge of India's white-ball teams as having two skippers could prove detrimental with two World Cups lined up.