Why Rohit Sharma will make a better Indian captain than Virat Kohli
“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine” – The Imitation Game.
Rohit Sharma has been a mystery unsolvable for even the greatest pundits of Cricket. That lazy elegance, those caressing cover drives, the breathtaking pull shots to the fastest bowlers in the world- there is something about him which makes you stand and applaud, to take notice. But then there is the disappointment that follows- a rash stroke, chasing a wide ball and who can forget leaving a delivery on off stump (against Dale Steyn at Durban).
Let’s rewind the clock. CB series 2008 - the first of the best of 3 finals. Chasing 240 for victory, India are 3 down with Uthappa, Gambhir and Yuvraj back in the dressing room. Out comes to bat a 20-year-old who had already played a match winning knock against South Africa in the inaugural edition of the world T20. He scores a chanceless 66 against the master Blaster, only to be done in by a James Hope delivery which kept low.
But by then, he had played an innings which even his staunch critics would agree was match winning and surpassing the expectations at his age. To put things into context, around that time Virat was captaining the U-19 team in the world cup. Surely no one would have thought that the dynamics were to change so comprehensively in the years to follow. But they did.
Virat has achieved almost everything there is to achieve at his age in cricket. His records are a testament to his hard work and determination. Seeing him bat after becoming the captain in Australia was praiseworthy.
It takes something to score four centuries in a Test series down under. Even the great Rahul Dravid agreed that this was the greatest performance by an Indian batsman in Australia, even better than Sachin Tendulkar. His records in ODIs are second to none. Hence, all of you might be wondering that why am I even writing this article? I will explain that.
Captaincy isn’t just about scoring runs or taking wickets yourself. It is about empowering your team, motivating them, giving them that shot in the arm and self-belief to do well. It is about playing for your teammates first and then yourself. It is about valuing the success of your teammates more than your success. Importantly, it is about getting the basics right. Virat is a great player but with the limited opportunities he has got to captain, he has shown that he has got major shortcomings.
1. The first major challenge of being a captain is to be involved with the team even when your personal form takes a dip. Though Virat wasn’t captain for India’s tour to England, he was seen to be quite low and not his usual chirpy self when Anderson had found him wanting in that tour. He is known to be someone who is aggressive on the field, but that aggression was not to be seen in the field on that tour. Imagine your captain getting bogged down; what kind of impact will it have on the team?
2. Aggression isn’t good per se, controlled aggression is. In the first test against Australia at Adelaide, he made a glaring mistake by playing Karan Sharma instead of Ashwin. The rest is history. Everyone saw the kind of help Lyon got from the surface, if Ashwin could even manage half of it, the story could have been different.
3. In that same match, he went for the chase in the 4th innings, which is commendable. But after India lost wickets in a heap, surely they should have played out a draw? But Virat had other ideas, he got out to an absolutely rash shot and India lost the match, one which they could have easily drawn.
4. People who follow IPL would know that RCB had one of the better teams in 2014 IPL. But they could not even make it to the playoffs. Some of the field placements were bizarre and he always seemed to be more interested in individual performances than team performances. Cricket isn’t Tennis after all and it’s the team performance as a whole that matters.
Rohit has been a rash player; there is no denying that fact. But since he has been made the captain of the Mumbai Indians team, we have seen a more responsible and determined Rohit. His records speak for that. He has guided his team to the playoffs each and every time through his inspirational captaincy and even won the IPL back in 2013.
Most of the critics would agree that RCB have more firepower than MI, yet leadership always makes a vital difference and so it did. Even in the 2015 season, he pioneered a remarkable turnaround and now Mumbai Indians are in the finals.
Even the great Ponting believes that there is something special about Rohit. It showed in India’s quarter-final against Bangladesh where he played a mature innings to help India secure a semi-final berth.
The other advantage of making Rohit the captain would be that it will allow Virat to concentrate on his game, much like happened when Sourav Ganguly was made the captain, which allowed Sachin to concentrate on his godly batting.
It is not necessary that your best player is made the captain, but it is most important that the captain takes out the best of his team. History has shown time and again that players who are not destined to be captains make the great ones. Who would have imagined MS Dhoni becoming captain ahead of Yuvraj Singh? The rest, as they say, is history.
The following era is a golden one for Indian cricket, and under proper leadership we can achieve more than we can ever imagine. But for that we need Virat the player, not the Virat the captain.
(The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sportskeeda)