"Rohit, Kohli are integral part of Indian cricket": Sourav Ganguly on both batters' future in T20Is
Kolkata, West Bengal: Former India captain and former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly backed skipper Rohit Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli's break from the white-ball leg of the South Africa tour and said the opener and number 3 batter is an "integral and important part of Indian cricket."
The BCCI on Thursday announced that Kohli and Rohit have been granted a break from the white-ball leg of the South Africa tour, however, both batters will return and feature in the red ball format.
Kohli and Rohit have emerged as the cynosures once again as India prepares for the T20 World Cup next year, despite a handful of international games and the upcoming Indian Premiere League (IPL) 2024 season. It's been more than one year since the two last played a T20I match for the national side.
Rohit and Kohli last played a T20I match for India back in the 2022 T20 World Cup when the Men in Blue went down to England in the knockout stage at the Adelaide Oval.
When asked if Rohit and Kohli fit in cricket's shortest format with the 2024 T20I World Cup approaching, Ganguly said both players were in terrific form in the recently concluded 2023 ODI WC and the opener and former captain "absolutely fit in the T20I format."
"They absolutely fit in the T20I format. You saw in the World Cup how well Virat Kohli has played. you saw how Rohit Sharma played in the World Cup. They are absolutely integral and an important part of Indian cricket. World Cup is different from bilateral because the pressure is different. I think they both were exceptional in this World Cup. Hopefully in 6 to 7 months down the line in the West Indies they will be against at their best," Ganguly said in an event on Friday in Kolkata.
Despite being the marquee event favourites, India were thrashed by Australia, who won their record-extending sixth 50-overs World Cup with a six-wicket triumph. India captain ended the 2023 WC as the second leading run-scorer with 597 runs in 11 innings behind Kohli who finished as the tournament's highest run-getter with 765 runs.
Kohli produced an all-time great run of form, scoring the most runs ever by an individual batter at the World Cup. His 765 surpassed the previous record held by Sachin Tendulkar (673 in 2003) and came at an average of 96.62. His three centuries in the tournament saw him reach 50 career ODI tons, overtaking Tendulkar for the most in the history of the format.
"Very rightfully they have taken the break because there is so much cricket all the time. I cannot imagine there was a WC final on November 19 and in three days, you are playing a T20I series against the same team. It is not easy to pick yourself up, especially with the pressure and demands of the World Cup. I am happy they got a break. They will come back fresh for Test cricket. Then there are 5 Tests against England and then IPL and World Cup. So it is non-stop cricket. Hopefully, they will come back fresh and keep performing," Ganguly added.
In Rohit's absence in South Africa's white-leg tour, Suryakumar Yadav will continue to assume the captaincy role of the team in the T20 format and Ravindra Jadeja will act as his deputy for the same.
For the three ODI games, KL Rahul will take the captaincy charge. The 50-over format will also see the return of Yuzvendra Chahal and Sanju Samson.
The tour will begin with the three-match T20I affair on December 10 at the Kingsmead Stadium. The second T20I will be played on December 12 at the St George's Oval. The 20-over format will conclude on December 14 at the Wanderers Stadium.
The 50-over clash will kick off on December 17 at the Wanderers Stadium. The second and final ODI will be played on December 19 and December 21 respectively.