Rohit Sharma took over the mantle of T20 leadership from Virat Kohli after the latter stepped down following last year’s World Cup in the UAE.

The Indian team is currently preparing for the T20 World Cup challenge as the ICC event will be held in Australia from October 16 to November 13. The Men in Blue have not won a single ICC tournament since 2013, when they captured the Champions Trophy in England. If we look at India’s best performance in the T20 World Cup, we have to go way back to 2007, when they lifted the inaugural championship in South Africa. They have gone in with strong teams in recent editions but, in a South African way, have choked every time.

Rohit Sharma took over the mantle of T20 leadership from Virat Kohli after the latter stepped down following last year’s World Cup in the UAE. In the past year, the Hitman has already broken a few records. He became the second most successful Indian T20I captain during the Asia Cup, going past Kohli’s record of 30 games. After India’s win over South Africa in the Thiruvananthapuram T20I, he also broke Dhoni’s record for most T20I wins by an Indian captain in a calendar year, registering his 16th win as a leader. 

Time to pass the baton after Australia?

As a full-time captain, Rohit has not been in charge of the T20 squad for long. It hasn’t been even a year. However, it will still make a lot of sense for the Hitman to step down as T20I captain irrespective of the result Down Under. It is important for him and the team management as well as selectors to look at the bigger picture after this year’s World Cup. The next edition of the T20 World Cup will be held in 2024 in West Indies and the United States. Rohit will be 37 by then, and there is no certainty whether or not he will be a part of the team.

Not just age but other issues are at work as well. Rohit has had his problems with fitness, his hamstring in particular. He needs to start thus cutting down on his workload, and that should start immediately after this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. Remember, there is the 50-over World Cup as well in India next year. The Men in Blue need him to be fresh and in shape for that challenge. It will possibly be his last chance to win the 50-over World Cup, considering he will be 40 when the 2027 50-over World Cup will be played.

Players are all around the world are prioritizing formats so that they elongate their careers. Ben Stokes has retired from international cricket, while Trent Boult has given up his central contract with New Zealand cricket. Rohit too, will need to take a call regarding his T20 future if he has to extend his international career. Team India will need his services in the World Test Championship (WTC) and the 50-over World Cup next year. As such, he will have to make a big decision on his T20 career after this year’s World Cup.

Who could replace Rohit as T20I captain?

This is the tricky part. India have tried to groom captains in recent months, but it hasn’t quite delivered desired results yet. While it will be unfair to expect too much too soon, the fact is that all the likely candidates to take over the post are grappling with issues of their own. KL Rahul is the designated vice-captain. However, his own form in the format has been under the scanner, and his captaincy stints have not impressed many. 

Keeper-batter Rishabh Pant led the team in the T20Is against South Africa when the Proteas visited India earlier this year. While his captaincy got mixed reviews, his T20I numbers have been hugely disappointing. He cannot even find a place in the starting XI. Pacer Jasprit Bumrah was another name doing the rounds, but considering his recent injury issues, it would be a challenging task to hand him the captaincy. A headache is in store for the selectors and team management.

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