Prior to finalizing the squad for the T20 World Cup, India has only six T20Is remaining – three against South Africa and three against Afghanistan at home. Virat Kohli, the leading run-scorer of the 2023 ODI World Cup, is reportedly no longer the preferred choice for India’s T20I XI. As the T20 World Cup approaches in June 2024, the focus has swiftly shifted from ODIs to T20Is. In a comprehensive five-hour meeting held in New Delhi, India’s captain Rohit Sharma, head coach Rahul Dravid, and the selection committee led by Ajit Agarkar discussed and devised a strategic plan for the upcoming significant event in the West Indies and the USA.
Prior to finalizing the squad for the T20 World Cup, India has only six T20Is remaining – three against South Africa and three against Afghanistan at home. Kohli, Rohit, and Jasprit Bumrah have requested breaks from the white-ball leg of the South Africa tour. This means that the selectors will only have three T20Is against Afghanistan to assess the full-strength squad. According to a report in Dainik Jagran, although Rohit and Bumrah are certain to be included in the playing XI, Kohli’s place in the T20 World Cup squad is not guaranteed. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials, including secretary Jay Shah, vice president Rajeev Shukla, and treasurer Ashish Shelar, along with the selectors present in the meeting, conveyed to Rohit that they have chosen him to lead the Indian side in the upcoming T20 World Cup. It is noteworthy that both Rohit and Kohli have not participated in this format since the semi-final of the T20 World Cup 2022, which took place in Australia. However, considering Rohit’s exceptional performance at the top of the order in the ODI World Cup held in India, where he scored an impressive 597 runs at a strike rate of 125, the selectors believe he deserves one final opportunity to showcase his skills at an ICC event. However, the same cannot be said for Kohli. Despite his impressive performance in the World Cup, where he surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries and became the first cricketer to score over 700 runs in a single edition of the tournament, Kohli is currently not the preferred choice at No.3 in T20Is. According to a BCCI official present in the meeting, the selectors and the board are looking for a player who can play attacking cricket right from the start. Ishan Kishan seems to be the frontrunner for the No.3 spot, as he showcased his skills in the home series against Australia with some impressive knocks. Kohli, who holds the record for the highest run-scorer in T20Is and is the only player with over 1000 international runs in the format, averaging over 50, will certainly be considered if he performs well in the IPL 2024. However, it is worth noting that Kohli usually opens for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and the opening slots in the Indian T20I side are currently occupied. The official suggests that either Yashasvi Jaiswal or Shubman Gill is likely to partner Rohit at the top of the order, while the other will serve as a backup opener in the squad. If Kishan is considered for the No.3 position, players like Suryakumar Yadav, Rinku Singh, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja will fill the remaining slots in the batting order. Consequently, there seems to be no place for Kohli, who is arguably India’s greatest white-ball cricketer in the last two decades. However, an official stated that the selectors and other senior members of the board will soon discuss Kohli’s plans for the T20Is. If Kohli himself informs the BCCI that he is not interested in playing the shortest format, then there may not be any dilemma.
READ| ‘Fights with colleagues, doesn’t respect seniors’: Sreesanth slams Gautam Gambhir after heated argument at LLC