The boxing day Test match is fast approaching and with the Indian Test skipper returning to India to attend his first child’s birth, the onus of captaincy has fallen on the shoulders of Ajinkya Rahane. With Rohit Sharma expected to join the side for the third Test match after completing his mandatory quarantine in Sydney — the time is ripe for the BCCI to use the situation to reform the deep-seated issues plaguing the national team. A calculated risk can be taken by making Rohit Sharma the captain of the Test team. Taking nothing away from Rahane but the team can use a captain that has proven that he can win trophies and not let the team capitulate on paltry totals of 36 and 49.
The critics of this decision might say that Rohit Sharma is not even a regular pick in the Test team and that’s a fair observation. However, when we delve deeper, one can understand that Rohit – one of the pillars of modern-white ball cricket for the Indian team has always wandered on the fringes of the test team. Despite having a stunning average of over 100 at home, Rohit has not been in the scheme of things for the Test team for quite some time. He might have failed in the SENA countries a few times, as do most players but that doesn’t mean he is a bad test player or he should not be in the side.
His performance against South Africa in the home series last year was a perfect answer to his critics who questioned his pedigree in the longest format of the game. Finally, given a chance to open the innings in his Test career, Rohit became the first-ever batsman to score two centuries on debut as a Test opener. His cumulative 529 runs in series against a good SA side proved that Rohit Sharma had metamorphosed his game for the Test matches as well.
Some analysts have suggested that it is the ego-tussle between Kohli and Rohit that has partly kept the latter out from Kohli’s scheme of things in Tests. The rift between the two players was evident by the fact that Kohli did not know the whereabouts of his opening batsman when quizzed by the media in the lead up to the Australia series.
IPL and Limited overs captaincy record has already shown that if not better, Rohit is equally comparable to Kohli. In Kohli’s absence, Rohit Sharma took India to the Asia Cup and the Nidhas Trophy titles in 2018. He is also the most successful captain in Indian Premier League history, with 5 trophies on his shelf, compared to Kohli’s zilch.
Former cricketers around the world have also endorsed Sharma to take up the mantle from Kohli so that the current skipper can solely focus on his batting.
“If I was picking the Indian team before they came to Australia and knew that Virat was going to go home after the first Test, I would have picked Rohit Sharma. 100 per cent. Because I think he needs to captain India if ViratKohli is not there. His captaincy and leadership is outstanding.” said former Australian captain Michael Clarke in one of the interviews.
With Rohit Sharma, India can be assured of a settled look that hasn’t been possible in Kohli’s over six-year reign as the captain in the longest format of the game. It was only in 2018 during the India tour of England that Kohli for the first time in his 39-match Captain career fielded the same playing XI in consecutive matches.
The decision to drop Cheteshwar Pujara during the previous England tour had also raised more than few eyebrows behind the rather hara-kiri decision of Kohli. After all, it was Pujara’s shoulders that steered India to a series victory in Australia.
A lack of stability in Test XI, has the potential to disrupt the rhythm of the team, even if the results have largely indicated otherwise. India might have won the series down under, two years back but between the solitary victory in a SENA nation, Kohli has also lost handsomely against England, South Africa and New Zealand despite having the best chance in India’s cricketing history to script a series win.
At the end of the day, a captain is defined by the number of silverware trophies he has in his cabinet, and so far, the men-in-blue have failed to lay their hand on any ICC trophy under Kohli’s reign. And if the World Test Championship and next year’s T20 trophy slip from Kohli’s hand, then it might be too late to ring in the changes.
The time is now and BCCI under Sourav Ganguly need to make tough calls. Making Rohit Sharma the captain being one of them.