'Even Kohli isn't as talented but Rohit cripples under captaincy' - Shoaib Akhtar's controversial remarks
Shoaib Akhtar made a two-fold controversial remark on Indian captain and experienced opening batter Rohit Sharma with a reference on talent and comparison with modern-day great Virat Kohli. The former Pakistan fast-bowler insists Rohit should never have taken up captaincy as he tends to "cripple" under its weight.
Akhtar also said Kohli "isn't as talented" as his longstanding teammate but Rohit's claimed inability to withstand pressure at the world stage has held him back. The 'Rawalpindi Express' cited that as a difference between the leadership and success of legendary MS Dhoni, under whom India recorded three ICC titles.
India have played for two major ICC trophies under Rohit's captaincy since he took over the reigns from Kohli across formats in early 2022. In both the men's T20 World Cup in Australia last year and the recent World Test Championship (WTC) final, Rohit Sharma wasn't able to exercise his influence and impact on the proceedings.
Undone by the spicing up of conditions via top-end summer rains Down Under, Rohit couldn't execute his intent and attacking game throughout the T20 World Cup and managed just 116 runs in his six innings. His twin outings at the WTC final in England against Australia fetched him scores of 13 & 43.
Shoaib Akhtar's massive Rohit Sharma claim with Kohli reference
Speaking in an interview with YouTube show 'Backstage with Boria', Akhtar accused Rohit of not being able to handle the pressure and weight of expectations that comes with captaining India. The renowned Pakistan seamer believes that has plagued the cricketer back and not allowed him to scale the career heights Kohli has despite more talent.
"There was once a guy who would take the entire team’s pressure upon himself – that was Dhoni. Only a captain can shield the entire team behind him. Rohit is a great guy, but he cripples during captaincy, he panics. These might be harsh words, but I don’t think he should have taken up the captaincy," Akhtar said.
"Even Virat Kohli isn’t as talented as him. The timing he has and the shots he can play…he is a classical batter – but was he made for captaincy? I question myself most of the time. Does he react well in most of critical situations? I question myself. He should also be questioning it."
"No doubt he [Rohit] has the ability to win this World Cup because he has the home crowd behind him, he has the team and his talent behind him. Prove me wrong, prove everybody wrong – I am sure he has the ability to do that. But, I feel since 2013, India’s captaincy has crippled [under pressure], even under Kohli. Kohli used to get over-aggressive, Rohit panics," he added.