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A case for the Rohit Sharma captaincy thought

The 32-year-old has proved that his leadership qualities are second to none when it comes to captaincy.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

As Eoin Morgan’s England made their way to the island shores they once ruled, MS Dhoni and MSK Prasad convened a critical meeting. In the grand scheme of things, it was one of those decisions that required the presence of the stakeholders. Something that would shape the course of Indian cricket in the future.

Dhoni, as Indian captain, had been asked the question quite a number of times. And at all times, he had dealt with them by letting his bat and gloves do the talking. As far as Prasad was concerned, it was a critical moment. It was only a matter of time before the vulturous Indian media would begin their barrage of queries. It was unsettling, to say the least.

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In fact, it was Prasad had made a similar decision a mere three years prior as well. In 2014, at the age of 26, Virat Kohli was handed the reigns of the Indian test team. With MS Dhoni’s injury and subsequent retirement, one thing was clear. The Indian team would undergo a transition, a smooth one at that, under the leadership of Kohli.

The appointment of Kohli

There was no doubt in the mind of any that Kohli was the man. He had been the man for as long as one could remember. His performances had spoken for themselves. The manner in which he belittled even the best of the bowlers was nothing short of marvellous.

Testimonials from some of the best in the business simply went on to prove the point which many Indian, least of all the selection committee, began to believe. Lasith Malinga and Dale Steyn, whilst at the end of their careers too sent in their words of endorsement. It was clear that Kohli was the golden-haired boy, as far as the management was concerned, at the very least.

From the outset, it seemed as though the decision made was the correct one. A high-scoring series against Eoin Morgan’s men and some more spectacular performances had successfully convinced the public. Kohli was indeed the man for the job. And the Indian team could simply do nothing wrong.

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The Rohit Sharma story

Rohit Sharma was known in the labyrinth of certain cricketing circles as ‘The Man With Potential’. There had been the odd times when his attitude and temperament were in question. Yet, his rise as one of India’s most prolific batsman had been on the rise.

A bevvy of double centuries in the ODI format and backing by Dhoni had only ensured that his stock got higher.

However, there was one thing that caught the eye of many. 2013 had been a leap year of sorts for Rohit. Having been made the captain of the Mumbai Indians, it seemed as though the Reliance-owned franchise was planning for the future.

The responsibility as captain also ensured that Rohit’s temperament as a batsman rose rather astronomically. The 2013 IPL season witnessed the Mumbai Indians defeating the Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs in the final. More importantly, it was the first time in their history that they had won. And with one of their own at the helm.

The first taste of Rohit Sharma as captain of any team was one of success. On looking closely, the traits of leadership and captaincy were indeed there for all to see. Even the current coach of the Indian team Ravi Shastri went on to remark, “Rohit was a calming influence and it showed in his captaincy. To keep his intensity going even after the start they had, showed he was really cool in every aspect of captaincy.”

Not just about the numbers

As vice-captain of the side, despite the presence of MS Dhoni, Rohit has led the Indian outfit in the absence of full-time skipper Virat Kohli. And for the most part, it has been at the times when the latter has been resting.

The first time 32-year-old Mumbaikar was made captain was when the Sri Lankans came visiting. The Lankans, though in transition, were a formidable side and one which had withstood several onslaughts since the departure of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

His first ODI as skipper would end in defeat. A bad one at that, something that would prove to be Rohit’s first and only taste of defeat as captain of the Indian team. He would hit back, this time with the bat, leading from the front with a massive double century in Mohali.

The opportunities to prove himself as captain would only continue, allowing him to distinguish himself as an able leader of the pack whilst Virat Kohli continued his workload management. Victories in the Nidahas Trophy coupled with a mammoth win the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup established his credentials. The situation went so far as the stuffed shirts behind the selection committee considering Sharma as a potential captain for the shorter formats with Kohli’s focus on the longer ones.

The captaincy approach

The general observation of Rohit Sharma and his captaincy methods are that being the close alignment with those of MS Dhoni. A stark similarity can be seen with Rohit’s handling of pressure situations, something that made Dhoni the successful skipper.

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It even took a documentary series on Netflix to prove the impact Rohit was having on the Mumbai Indians. The stark distinction between Dhoni and Rohit comes with the latter not being as much of a gambler. This comes despite the decision to promote Vijay Shankar ahead of Dinesh Karthik against Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy Final.

However, the schools of thought between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli is amicably different. Such is the gap between the two that it does not require an expert to spot the contrast. Any fan who has followed cricket in the last five years would be able to tell the difference. That Rohit is not quite the cut-throat, go-getter, and aggressive skipper that Virat Kohli is.

He is also often seen giving advice to players while giving opportunities to the ones he believes have potential. The scare the Indians were on the receiving end against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup saw Khaleel Ahmed lose his place for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a decision which ensured that the Indians did not drop points in the tournament.

It is purely these decisions that bring about the leadership and the trust in the management increases. And creates a case for Rohit Sharma to be at the helm, in the grand scheme of things.

The context of the World Cup

As things stand, Rohit Sharma is set to deputize for Virat Kohli as the World Cup looms over in England and Wales. His batsmanship will come to the fore as always, but his leadership skills will certainly be something that Virat might consider. And this is the case the selectors might consider for Rohit Sharma as captain.

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