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END OF KOHLI-ROHIT ERA IN WHITE BALL CRICKET?

As the Indian squads were announced for the upc o m i n g South Africa tour, everyone was keen to check whether Kohli-Rohit were part of the white ball teams or not. To the fans’ disappointment, both will feature only in the Test series against South Africa but not in ODIs or in the T20s! With The T20 World Cup just a few months away and no important ODI series ahead, there is confusion on the availability of the Indian veterans for the short ball formats and the obvious question, giving wings to the rumour mills, is whether Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are done in white ball cricket?

Although fans insist that both have plenty of cricket left in them and they can push themselves to play the next year’s T20 World Cup, the facts signify a different picture. While both Kohli and Rohit have been on a break ever since India’s unfortunate loss at the ODI World Cup finals, the duo has also not played a single T20 international from the time India exited in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in Australia last year.

Moreover, after the ongoing five match T20I series against Australia, India will have only six more T20Is to play before the next year’s T20 World Cup in America. Apart from the IPL that will be played in the summers just before the World T20, India’s top players will have only three matches in December in South Africa and another three matches against Afghanistan in January. So, it does lead to the conclusion that if Kohli and Rohit were seriously looking to play in the next World Cup, they would have been part of each T20 match that gets played from now on.

Being thorough professionals, the Kohli-Rohit duo knows the importance of constantly contesting and playing in a particular format to excel and that is why both played almost all the ODI games in the year leading up to the recent World Cup in India. As they aren’t part of the current T20 series versus Australia and nor participating in the South Africa series, the writing is quite obvious on the wall!

On more occasions than one, Kohli and Rohit have stated Test cricket to be the epitome of a cricketer’s talent, skill and endurance. Probably, both wish to focus on the longer format and take India to ultimate glory in Tests as India has a very good all-round team. Undoubtedly, the Indian team has the best bowling line-up across all formats and if the team plays well, India could crown itself to glory in the test match arena. Winning in white ball cricket may come down to one special performance on a particular day but winning in Tests needs good cricket for sustained periods. Team India has the wherewithal to bowl out oppositions and they did come perilously close to winning on the last two occasions though eventually lost in the finals to New Zealand in 2021 and then to Australia in 2023.

The selection of youngsters in the T20 format is probably an indication of where the future of these two Indian legends lies. As the next ODI world event, Champions Trophy, is also slated for 2025, it is apparent that Indian selectors would be keen on choosing a nucleus of the side keeping in mind the World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2027. Hence, by the time the next ODI World Cup comes around, both stars would be hitting their forties which, of course, could make it an uphill climb to negotiate in the shorter version of cricket!

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL

Siddhaarth Mahan The writer is a specialist on Sports and Cinema who works as an actor in the Hindi film industry

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