One of the biggest superstars that Indian cricket has ever seen is Virat Kohli. He possessed unbelievable talent, trained incredibly hard, performed consistently across formats, and was a born leader. His ability to articulate his thoughts eloquently and be aggressive on the field made him an instant choice for captaincy.
The inevitable happened in 2017 when MS Dhoni stepped down as captain from all forms. Kohli has led India in tests since 2014 and in all formats since 2017. For the past 4.5 years, the team has grown in leaps and bounds. India has become unbeatable at home. They have become a significant force to reckon with when traveling to foreign shores. Additionally, Kohli has captained RCB for the last 8 years.
Considering all of the above factors as well as India’s packed cricketing calendar, questions about fatigue management, burnout, dip in form, team performance, scrutiny of tournament performances, and analysis of personal form are bound to arise. Kohli’s form, even though significantly better than the median form of other players, has taken a beating.
India’s propensity to get knockout in crucial matches of ICC tournaments has also come into questioning. All of this conjecture has resulted in today’s decision. Kohli has finally decided to relinquish his position as the T20 captain after the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup. He will continue to play that format as a batsman. The BCCI has not named his replacement yet but we look at names that could be in the reckoning.
1. Rohit Sharma
It is a no-brainer that he is the front runner for this job. His credentials are cast in stone. If there is any player after Kohli to have dominated in the last decade, then it is Sharma. His tactical and strategic presence of mind is stellar. He has led Mumbai Indians to a record 5 IPL titles and has been exceptional in his role as a captain. He has been part of the leadership group for the national set-up as well.
2. KL Rahul
Rahul is another player who has been a consistent performer in the last couple of years. He has been slotted in the ODI team as no. 4 and has excelled in his position. On the back of his form in ODI, he has done well in tests and T20s too. He has led the Punjab franchise in IPL as well. He has the necessary skill and experience to lead India at the highest level.
3. Rishabh Pant
His name tops the list of youngsters who could replace Kohli. If the selectors go ahead with him, it would be a fresh team structure with a view of the future. Pant impressed one and all when he led DC earlier in the year due to Shreyas Iyer’s injury. He has retained his job as the captain in the second leg as well. With Pant’s game only set to get better from here, he is the best suited amongst youngsters to be Kohli’s successor.
4. Shreyas Iyer
Iyer was magnificent last year but an untimely injury has created havoc in the upward trajectory of his career. He led Delhi Capital to their first-ever finals and was exceptional throughout the tournament. Post that, he was picked for the white ball tour to Australia. He played crucial innings in the middle order and with Hardik Pandya was the perfect finisher. He chased down brilliantly. He has shown glimpses of what a player he could be. If he comes back strongly in this IPL, he could be a prime candidate to captain India in the T20s.
5. Jasprit Bumbrah
This name could surprise many but there is a tangible theory around it. Bumbrah plays for Mumbai Indians where till Sharma plays, there is no room for any other captain. However, in tests, Kohli and Sharma may be calling it quits at similar points of time and BCCI would have to be ready with a replacement. Bumbrah is today 27 years and in 5 years’ time, he would be in a great position to become a bowling captain in tests. He is skillful and smart, hence, perfect to lead India in tests. However, BCCI would need to give him time to adapt to the role and the T20 captaincy could be most suited for him to transit into test captaincy in the future.