Selectors have to take the call overlooking beyond Rohit, Virat for next T20 World Cup: Gautam Gambhir

New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) When India’s T20I squad for the series against Sri Lanka, to be held in January 2023, was announced late on Tuesday evening, it had a look very similar to the one which played against New Zealand: no Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

The move to not include the highly-experienced duo spells out that the build-up for the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup and the transition for the team in the shortest format of the game has begun. Former India opener Gautam Gambhir believes the call on the future of Rohit and Virat in the T20I scheme of things has to be taken by the selectors.

“Yes, it’s going to be a big call. But some other countries have taken that call, whether it is England, they have actually gone that way. They have actually gone with a lot of power and went in with a lot of young talent when they were re-building their white-ball cricket. Australia and some of the other teams also have done that.”

“Whether the selectors want to do that, to look beyond Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for the next World Cup, they have to take that call. But for me, if you are not a part of the T20I series, and someone else grabs that opportunity, how difficult does it become for the selectors to drop that young player?” he said while replying to a question from IANS during an interaction organised by Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the upcoming Sri Lanka tour of India.

Gambhir further asked what would the selectors do if the younger players perform well in T20Is against Sri Lanka in the absence of Rohit and Virat.

“For example, if someone performs really well at number three in this series against Sri Lanka, would it be fair for that someone batting at number three to be replaced by Virat Kohli? If someone gets runs at the top of the order, would it be fair for that person to be replaced by Rohit Sharma?”

“For me, that question needs to be answered by the selectors. But if the selectors want to look beyond Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for the T20 format, I think it’s fine. Sometimes you got to take those tough calls because you got to look ahead and prepare for the next T20 World Cup.”

With too much chopping and changing being the norm for the Indian team in 2022, Gambhir does not wish for any kind of rotation to happen with the Indian team in ODIs in 2023 due to it being a 50-over World Cup year. Both Rohit and Virat are in the ODI squad for matches against Sri Lanka.

“If you see towards the 50-over World Cup, which will be happening in India this year, then according to me, no one should be taking a break from the format. One same team has to play maximum matches till the World Cup.”

“You can do some changes, like if you take a squad of 15, then you need to have 13 players who will be consistently in the playing eleven till the World Cup. I hope that the selectors learn from the mistakes committed in the last two World Cups, and then not give too many breaks to players, especially in the 50-over format.”

Veteran left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan, who captained India in almost all second-string ODI series since the Covid-19 pandemic broke in March 2020, is left out of the series against Sri Lanka.

Dhawan, one of India’s important players in ODIs in the last ten years, made 688 runs in 22 innings in 2022, with a low strike rate of 74.21. Moreover, he scored only 18 runs in three innings against Bangladesh at a strike rate of 51.42.

Gambhir thinks making a comeback to ODI side will be an uphill task for Dhawan. “Anyone can make a comeback. But according to me, it will be very difficult for Shikhar Dhawan to make a comeback because you have got Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and K.L. Rahul as well.”

“It’s going to be tough for him as you cannot count anyone out because till the time you are playing cricket, you can have an exceptional IPL, as he doesn’t play first-class cricket anymore, which again for me is a surprise. If he doesn’t play first-class cricket, then it’s going to be tough for him.” – IANS

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