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India vs Afghanistan: National selectors in quandary over inclusion of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for three-match T20I series

Selectors have been forced to consider Rohit as captain again since Pandya is injury-prone and they don’t wish to take any chances

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 06.01.24, 06:14 AM
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Getty Images

The national selectors are in a quandary over the inclusion of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan at home, beginning January 11.

Injuries to Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav have opened up the captaincy issue ahead of the T20 World Cup in June. Pandya has been the designated captain in the shortest format since the last World Cup in Australia and Surya has led in his absence. Both though are expected to be available for the showpiece event in the US and the West Indies.

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The selectors have been forced to consider Rohit as captain again since Pandya is injury-prone and they don’t wish to take any chances. Rohit’s exemplary positive intent in the Powerplay overs of the 50-over World Cup has also put him back in the reckoning.

Rohit and Kohli haven’t featured in any T20I since the semi-final against England in 2022. However, it is understood that both have intimated to the Ajit Agarkar-led committee that they are available for the World Cup.

Other names that have cropped up for leading in the home series include Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja.

The selectors need to make some aggressive and bold calls. The mood within the committee is to stick to the youngsters whose fearless brand of cricket has added a new dimension to the T20 gameplan.

But when cricketers like Rohit and Kohli stake their claim it is difficult to ignore them and settle for a horses-for-courses policy.

The team has been trying to do away with their conservative batting and adopt a more dynamic approach in keeping with the demands of the format. India’s defeats in the last two T20 World Cups have been blamed on their conventional batting style.

At the last meeting to pick the squads for the South Africa tour, the selection committee discussed this tricky situation but failed to arrive at a decision. They realised that they need to plan for the future and any negative result would have widespread implications.

Sources told The Telegraph that Kohli’s selection has put the selectors and the Board in a dilemma. But will they show the courage to leave him out of the squad?

Kohli aggregated a record 765 runs from 11 matches in the recently concluded ODI World Cup at home. He had also been India’s highest run-getter in the last edition of the T20 World Cup with 296 though his strike-rate of 136.40 was way below average.

Agarkar is in Cape Town along with his colleagues Shiv Sundar Das and Salil Ankola. Two other selectors, Subrata Banerjee and S. Sharath, will be joining in the teleconference. Rahul Dravid’s opinion too could be vital in the decision-making process.

The next few hours will be defining for Indian cricket.

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