Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma marked their T20I return after a hiatus of more than a year. But, what made the BCCI hand them call-ups for the Afghanistan series?
The Indian cricket spectrum jumped with joy as Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma marked their return to the national team in the T20I format as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced squad for the Afghanistan series. Kohli and Rohit hadn't played a T20 international since the conclusion of the T20 World Cup 2022 but are back in the reckoning, especially as the Afghanistan series remains Team India's last before next year's T20 World Cup.
Though Kohli and Rohit remain two of the most sought-after batters of their generation, their contributions in the shortest format haven't been as welcoming in the last couple of years as the critics would've liked. In fact, the delay the BCCI selection committee had in announcing the squad for the Afghanistan series also seems to have had something to do with the selection of Kohli and Rohit.
But, what made the BCCI select the veteran duo for the series? We take a look at potential reasons:
1. Rohit Sharma's Aggression, Virat Kohli's Form
In the ODI World Cup 2023, Rohit's aggression at the top of the order was one of the biggest positives for the team. Rohit's fiery cameos gave the team flying starts and a similar impact can be expected from him in the T20 World Cup next year. Such intent made it hard for the selectors to ignore him.
As for Kohli, arguably the finest batter of his generation, he has been in sublime form in the ODI format, playing the role of an anchor effortlessly. He also went past Sachin Tendulkar's record of most ODI centuries during the World Cup. Going by Kohli's form and impact on the field, it is hard for the BCCI to not consider him for the shortest format.
2. Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav's absence
With the duo of Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav absent due to injury concerns, two big spots open up in the Indian squad. With Hardik and Surya out, the selectors can't find a better leader to guide the team than Rohit.
Though Rohit and Kohli's playing styles could be different in comparison to Surya and Hardik, the fear they instill in the minds of opponent team's bowlers isn't inferior by any means.
3. Virat's Adaptability, Rohit's Leadership
When it comes to subcontinent conditions, the Indian team has many options to consider in the T20I format but things change a little when planning for the T20 World Cup in South Africa. Virat Kohli's ability to adapt himself to challenging conditions and deliver remains unparalleled.
He rose the highest as India went to South Africa for the Test series, scoring the most number of runs in challenging conditions. Hence, to leave him out of the picture entirely for the T20 World Cup in the Rainbow Nation is a mistake the BCCI might want to avoid.
As for Rohit, he remains the No. 1 contender for the captaincy spot because of Hardik Pandya's injury record. Hardik couldn't prove his fitness for the Afghanistan series and remains a doubt for the start of IPL 2024 too. To bank on him for the T20 World Cup is a risk the selectors might not be willing to take.
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