Indian cricket has been going through a very rough phase of late. They had a horror T20 World Cup 2021 campaign in which they failed to go past the Super 12 round. The next few months were more about Virat Kohli vs BCCI. The former quit as captain from two formats and was sacked from the third. He openly challenged the might of the cricket board, but BCCI stuck to its guns. When Rohit Sharma got injured just ahead of the South Africa tour and Kohli, mysteriously, before the 2nd Test, plenty of eyebrows were raised. India’s on-field performance was certainly impacted as they looked like a disjointed unit.
Team India began a new era with Rohit taking over as full-time ODI captain during the home series against West Indies. He had already been named leader of the T20 format earlier. The biggest challenge for Rohit, head coach Rahul Dravid and the support staff will be to bring the team together and ensure infighting is kept to the minimum possible level. There have been numerous rumors about there being two camps in Indian cricket – one that supports Rohit and the other that backs Kohli. Even if that is actually the case, the ultimate goal should be the betterment of Indian cricket.
Rohit’s leadership must come to the fore
Rohit and former skipper Kohli have rather contrasting styles of leadership. While the latter is highly aggressive and more in-your-face, the Mumbai Indians (MI) captain is known for his calm and composed ways and giving players space. As Hardik Pandya recently stated, there is no manual as to how one can lead a team. Each one has their own style as well as strengths and weaknesses. However, one feels, considering all that Indian cricket has gone through in the last few months, Rohit’s calming influence as a leader is exactly what the doctor ordered. He needs to guide this side through rough waters.
No doubt, Kohli was a very good leader in his own right. His record speaks for itself, and his achievements during the last decade, barring in key ICC games, have been unparalleled. But of late, his captaincy, as well as batting, had been feeling the pressure of the responsibility. The fight with the cricket board wasn’t helping matters. As Dravid famously said while stepping down as India captain years ago – leading India comes with a shelf life. Kohli’s time as the skipper had certainly passed. He, now, needs to regain his mojo with the bat considering two big World Cups are coming up.
Major challenges for captain Rohit
While he can certainly be expected to bring a sense of serenity into the Indian camp, there are a few major challenges for Rohit in-store as full-time captain in the white-ball format for now. He needs to unite the team on the cricket field and ensure that whatever issues there are between players remain off the field. It would be foolhardy to expect that everything would be hunky-dory in the Indian team. Each individual is different, has their own thought process, and cannot be expected to be best friends with all the other members of the team. This never has and will never be the case. Even the all-conquering Australian side had ego clashes and problems among players, but they never brought it on the cricket field. This is what Rohit will need to achieve as a leader with Team India.
Also, the new captain will have to ensure that Kohli very much feels a part of the setup and is given a specific role in the team. Having been a leader for so many years, the 33-year-old would be finding himself in unknown territory. However, India very much need his services as a senior pro. There were encouraging signs when Kohli helped the team out with a DRS decision, and he was proved right! However, his batting effort in 1st ODI against West Indies was bizarre. He seemed confused. These are times when Rohit will be expected to step in, ensure clarity and get the best out of everyone.