'Huge step back' - ex India star brushes aside Shastri's 'make Kohli captain' suggestion in Rohit's absence
Even as the battle for the playoffs spots intensifies in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), former India head coach Ravi Shastri has his eyes set on Indian cricket's progress and developments outside the cash-rich T20 league.
In an interesting viewpoint, Shastri recently suggested a solution to regular India skipper Rohit Sharma's notorious history of skipping important games due to untimely injuries. The elegant opener has been particularly injury-prone in Test cricket, having led the side in only six of the nine Tests India have played since he was appointed all-format captain.
With a marquee World Test Championship (WTC) looming in June against arch-rivals Australia, Shastri took note of Rohit's series of poorly timed injuries and suggested the selectors and the management to consider going back to his predecessor Virat Kohli if the skipper is to be injured again for the Aussie clash.
While Kohli formally gave up Test captaincy following India's disappointing 2-1 series loss in South Africa early last year, Shastri believes there is an opportunity for him to take over if Rohit is absent for the WTC final at The Oval. It's a suggestion that may excite Kohli fans. However, another former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh reckons it will be a "huge step back" from the think-tank.
Harbhajan on Shastri's Kohli-Rohit suggestion
The turbanator said it would be a backwards move from the selection committee at a time when India need to identify their future Test match leader and invest in him. With both Kohli and Rohit approaching the back half of their thirties, Harbhajan said it's a move that would deny a future Test captaincy material any opportunity to learn the skills required for the top job.
"This will be like taking a huge step back (making Kohli a fill-in captain)," Harbhajan was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. "If you keep moving back, how will you move forward? Not that Virat was a bad captain. Till the time he was in charge, Virat was brilliant."
"Look at this record – the Test wins at home and overseas – it speaks for itself. He's delivered the results too. But I definitely believe that if Rohit is not playing or is injured or whatever be the reason, we should look at someone else."
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The Kohli captaincy talk has picked up steam once again after he briefly got back to leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL 2023. Kohli wore the captaincy badge as the franchise decided to play Faf du Plessis only as an 'Impact Player', with the intention to allow him to rest their fielding duties to ensure he doesn't worsen his now-healed injury.
"If it comes to the one-off match, then yes, Virat can take charge," Harbhajan said. "But not otherwise. If it's a big match like a WTC final, why not? But if you look at a 4-match series where Rohit is not available, then that is the time to invest in a new captain."
"But if you go back to Virat in a long series, that is not a step in the right direction. Firstly, Virat won't do it, and even if he does, it will send an indication that we haven't prepared the next captain."
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