Split-captaincy could be formal if India don't do well at 2023 World Cup: Dinesh Karthik

The veteran wicketkeeper-batter sent an indirect warning to his friend and India's all-format skipper Rohit Sharma, with allrounder Hardik Pandya looming as a potential T20I replacement. 
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Over the past few months, India have informally entered a transition phase and adopted split-captaincy in white-ball cricket. While ensuring veterans Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli get adequate rest and reserve their energies for Tests and ODIs, the selectors have handed over interim T20I captaincy to allrounder Hardik Pandya with a young squad at his disposal. 

There have been speculations that this is a long-term plan, part of India's response for a disappointing semifinal exit at the T20 World Cup in Australia, to let Pandya rebuild the side with fresh arsenal towards the next edition of the same in 2024 while stretching the careers of the Rohit-Kohli duo in the two longer versions of the game. 

Out of favour since the Australian event, wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik, however, believes nothing can be said with certainty about this arrangement and a brighter picture will emerge only after the BCCI assesses India's performance at the 2023 World Cup under Rohit Sharma. 

In an indirect warning to his friend, Karthik suggested Rohit could lose his T20I captaincy if India don't do "something special" at the 50-overs World Cup at home. If India lose, the experienced glover stressed, Pandya's young T20I set-up could get a formal stamp of approval by the selectors for the 2024 T20 World Cup in the Caribbean & USA. 

Karthik's word on Rohit's T20I captaincy future

Karthik backed his idea by stressing on a rare calendar year short on T20I matches with the build-up towards the 2023 World Cup and 50-overs game garnering more attention. He said not until the end of the quadrennial event in October-November would we know if the Rohit-Kohli duo has played its last match in the T20I format. 

"If the case presents itself, why not? But right now, it is not right for me to say for two reasons. One, India are only playing three T20s after this until the 2023 World Cup, they face the West Indies after the IPL. Once that tournament is done, I think we will know exactly where things stand," Karthik told Cricbuzz. 

"If Rohit Sharma's team doesn't go on to do something special there, we could very well see a chance of split captaincy, I guess the opportunity will present itself at that point of time."

"Whereas if Rohit goes on to achieve something special, we will all like to think differently and give him a crack at the 2024 T20 World Cup if he himself is willing to play that," he added. 

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To his credit, Pandya's stocks as India's potential long-term T20I captain are quite high at the moment. Having stood in for nine T20Is, the allrounder has led the side in six wins and retains an influential voice within the dressing room. He also led first-timers Gujarat Titans (GT) to an IPL title win last summer. 

"For the moment, I do believe that Hardik has done a phenomenal job. Case in point being the T20 that was played against Sri Lanka in Mumbai. That was a great game. Stopping Sri Lanka for 160 was a terrific effort on a day where there was little dew. He showed his captaincy prowess there," Karthik said. 

"He lives for the big games. After Virat Kohli, if I have seen somebody who wants those big games, it is Hardik Pandya. You would have to put Bumrah in that list as well. As a batter, Hardik Pandya loves those big occasions."

"That is why you would see in bilaterals he is not too fussed about whether he is batting consistently. As a bowler also, he is somebody who wants to fill in those holes wherever it is whether it be in the middle orders. We saw him bowling very well with the new ball as well. That is something he enjoys," he added.