'The right thing to do' - Ashwin opens up on Rohit-Kohli's T20I absence
Ravichandran Ashwin noted the year-long absence of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma from India's T20I side and welcomed the decision made by the selectors and the management for the two esteemed cricketers to focus their energies entirely towards the coming edition of the 50-overs World Cup.
No such plan would've passed without the selection panel and team management led by coach Rahul Dravid keeping the two great cricketers in the loop with the discussions and overall planning for an extremely busy calendar.
With that in mind, Ashwin said it was wise for the think-tank to ask the marquee duo to prioritise the 2023 World Cup and miss each of India's T20I fixtures since the conclusion of the previous year's T20 World Cup in Australia.
From their painstaking loss in the semifinal against England at the Adelaide Oval, India have played 17 T20Is with a fresh-looking squad under stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya amidst calls for India to rejuvenate their approach and intent with bat in hand.
Given the upcoming schedule, it is likely that Rohit and Kohli will remain absent from the T20I scene until January, which casts major doubt on their future in the format ahead of the next iteration of the T20 World Cup next June in the Caribbean & USA.
Ashwin on Kohli-Rohit's T20I absence
Speaking on his YouTube channel, however, Ashwin didn't look that far ahead and said in the present scenario, it was a "good decision" made by the decision-makers for Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to skip the T20Is and focus on their planning and preparations for 2023 World Cup, starting October 5.
"Both [Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma] of them skipping and getting ready for the 50-over World Cup is a good decision and personally, both of them know their cricket very well since they have been playing for such a long time," Ashwin said.
"So, they are using their experience and want to concentrate on the 50-over World Cup, which is exactly the right thing to do."
The close proximity with Test and ODI assignments of India's next three T20I series - at home against Australia, followed by a series in South Africa and then back at home versus Afghanistan - suggests India are likely to be without Rohit and Kohli until five months leading into the next T20 World Cup.
More clarity will arrive in the coming months when the two players sit with the selectors and the management in the aftermath of the 50-overs World Cup to ascertain their future plans. But given their age and evident decline in run-making versus spin, and the need for India to press the transition switch with a more attacking strategy, it wouldn't be a shock if an informal call has already been made on this front.