On the very day that its team put up a pathetic show at the ICC T20 World Cup cricket semifinal match with England, the BCCI has decided to bring in a major transition in India’s T20 squad within two years, easing out senior players such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, board sources said today. While it appears that Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik have played their last games in the shortest format, the BCCI will leave it to Kohli and Rohit to decide on their T20I future.
After the team’s humiliating defeat in the T20 World Cup semifinal, head coach Rahul Dravid, the introverted gentleman who fronted the media after the match, consoled a visibly upset Sharma.
The next T20 World Cup is still two years away and if those privy to developments are to be believed, there will be a brand new team in place with Hardik Pandya being the long-term captaincy choice. “The BCCI never asks anyone to retire. It is an individual decision. But yes, with just a handful of T20Is scheduled in 2023, most of the seniors will concentrate on ODIs and test matches in that cycle,” a BCCI source said anonymously. “You don’t need to announce retirement if you don’t want to. You will not see most of the seniors playing T20 next year,” the source remarked.
However, Dravid said it was too early to talk about transition when asked about the future of senior players like Kohli and Rohit. “It’s too early to talk about it right now just after a semi-final game. These guys have been terrific performers for us. As you said, we have a couple of years to reflect on it,” Dravid said.
While some of the players have been contemporary greats of the game, Dravid does not want anyone to write them off in haste. “There are some really good quality players here, so absolutely not the right time to talk about this stuff or think about this stuff right now. We’ll have enough games, enough matches as we go on ahead, and India will try and build and prepare for the next World Cup,” the head coach said.
For the next year, the T20Is will take a backseat as India play at least 25 ODIs, going into next year’s 50-over World Cup at home. A look at India’s FTP calendar shows that till the 50-over World Cup, the team will play only 12 T20Is in the form of bilateral events (home and away), starting with three games in New Zealand next week.
With Shubman Gill included in the side and Rishabh Pant (vice-captain for the tour) also a keen opener, the grammar of Powerplay batting might change. Not to forget a phenomenally talented Prithvi Shaw, who has been repeatedly ignored in Dravid’s stint as coach.
Rohit and Kohli are huge names and the BCCI is likely to leave it up to them to decide about charting the course for the next phase of their careers. Rohit is 35 now and in two years at the age of 37, he is not expected to lead a T20I team in a global meet. In the case of Karthik’s role as a designated finisher, it was a short-term arrangement keeping in mind the T20 World Cup.
As for Ashwin, there was no serious threat perception in the minds of the opposition batters during the entire tournament. Three of his six wickets in six games came in the Zimbabwe match and an economy rate of 8.15 was nothing to write home about.
Washington Sundar, who before his plethora of injuries had cemented his place, will now get a longer rope.
The only conundrum is KL Rahul, whose strike rate of 120.75 was a reflection of everything that was wrong with the Indian team. He is the only opener among top teams to have played two maiden overs and has failed to get into double digits against any top side (4 vs Pakistan, 9 vs SA, 9 vs England) in big games. Rahul has failed to change his game despite a lot of criticism and his non-performance has been so glaring that it will be difficult to ignore when the selectors meet to pick a team for a T20 series against Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton’s contract with the Indian team has ended with the conclusion of India’s T20 World Cup campaign. Upton’s second stint with the Indian team hasn’t yielded desired results as the team came a cropper at Asia Cup, as well as T20 World Cup.