Mumbai, September 21: Rohit Sharma is bearing the brunt of fans’ ire after India failed to defend 208 against Australia in the first T20I at Mohali on Tuesday (September 20).
Australia mounted a record chase to stun India by 4 wickets, as the home side failed to check the run flow even with 6 bowlers. Admittedly, India did not have Jasprit Bumrah and Arshdeep Singh were not present in India bowling line-up.
But others like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal could not rise to the occasion.
Little surprise then that the fans are targeting he captain of the side for the team’s failure, even though it is a collective responsibility.
1. The Bhuvneshwar question
In the absence of Bumrah, Rohit has been forced to give the 19th over to Bhuvneshwar, the most experienced bowler in the line-up but he has bungled it up in three successive matches. The pacer conceded 16, 14 and 19 runs against Pakistan, Sri Lanka (both in Asia Cup 2022) and against Australia as the next bowler had nothing much to defend in the 20th over.
Hopefully, the return of Bumrah and Arshdeep will change the course of things and will help Rohit to tighten things up in the slog overs. But overall too, India will be worried because they could not defend some good totals against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia in conditions as varied as Dubai and Mohali.
2 Rohit’s future as captain
While there are some jarring voices against his captaincy and approach, there is no immediate threat to the leadership role of Rohit. But a lot of it will ride on India’s performance in the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 next month. If India fail to make at least the semifinals then he might just have to undergo a harsher scrutiny and might be even forced to hand over T20 captaincy to someone else.
3 Who can replace Rohit as captain
KL Rahul: The Karnataka man is currently the vice-captain of the side and can be viewed as a natural successor to Rohit. But Rahul will have to show some betterment in the strike-rate during Power Plays, even though his overall strike rate of 140 is quite impressive. He has the experience of leading India and teams in the IPL.
Hardik Pandya: There is already a section clamouring for appointing Hardik as the captain of the T20 side. Their argument is based on his success in a similar role for Gujarat Titans in the IPL and the overall maturity that he has showed as a cricketer and person in recent times.
Hardik has improved quite a bit as a bowler, and now occasionally comes as 3rd seamer, though he is more comfortable in the 4th seamer role behind top 3 bowlers. He is also now shouldering a lot more responsibility as a batter, coming in at No 5 for India and batting longer — a true bridge between top and later order batters.
Suryakumar Yadav: SKY is in the form of his life in white ball cricket, and recently made a T20I hundred too. Even now, he is a dark horse but the selectors can think of him as an option as he has also led Mumbai in domestic cricket.
Jasprit Bumrah: The pacer has led India in one Test already and the selectors would like to look at him as a possible option for a similar role in T20Is too. They, however, would think whether Bumrah should be burdened with extra responsibility.