13 years & counting: Last chance saloon for Rohit Sharma to end India Cricket’s World Cup drought

13 years & counting: Last chance saloon for Rohit Sharma to end India Cricket’s World Cup drought

Since 2011, India Cricket Team have not won a World Cup. As another T20 World Cup approaches, it could be last saloon for Rohit Sharma.

World No 1 across formats, richest cricket board and players, yet India Cricket Team last won a World Cup back in 2011 on April 2. Rohit Sharma had a golden chance at home last year but Pat Cummins-led Australia silenced a 1,30,000-strong crowd in Ahmedabad to deny India the glory. But there is another ICC event coming in the T20 World Cup just two months away. And that would be Rohit Sharma’s last chance.

As we celebrate the triumph in 2011, it should also serve as a reminder to Team India what and why should their approach change to lift another T20 World Cup. India last won a T20 World Cup back in 2007.

Soon turning 37, Rohit Sharma may not have another World Cup left in him. And the BCCI is likely to look beyond Rohit after T20 WC in June.


The Problem

The golden generation of cricketers ended in 2011 with Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, and Ashish Nehra apart from Virender Sehwag.

T20 World Cup 2024 will mark another end to another group of players including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Ravindra Jadeja among others.

So, it’s a last-chance saloon. Irrespective of the result, it’s unlikely that any of the players will continue till the 2026 T20 WC.

But what’s ailing them?

Problem 1: All-rounders

To put it bluntly, it’s the mindset. India still go with 6 batters, 4 bowlers, an all-rounder (if fit) and a wicketkeeper-batter.

England, Australia and the West Indies — the last three champions — had a strong group of all-rounders that India have failed to produce.

That India’s Top 5 can’t roll their arms over is a shame in the current T20 scenario. Yet, India have stuck to the same approach.

Rohit Sharma401110142.677/1
Yashasvi Jaiswal16502161.934/1
Shubman Gill14335147.571/1
Virat Kohli25878135.079/1
Suryakumar Yadav552052171.0016/4
Rinku Singh11356176.232/0
Jitesh Sharma7100147.050/0
Hardik Pandya39874135.923/0
Indian batters in the last three years of T20Is

Problem 2: Mindset

The best ODI players are also the best T20 players. That’s right. That’s how Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma — two highest scorers of T20Is — are still in the team despite creating numerous combination problems.

To back his claim, Rohit Sharma has scored a century and 7 half-centuries in the last three years of T20Is. He has also maintained a strike rate of 142.67. But his inconsistency as an opener is such that youngsters would make more sense at this point. He also has had poor stints in the last three IPLs.

As for Virat Kohli, he continues to be India’s top-scorer in T20Is, even at ICC events. However, his approach has been discussed the most. With now bowling prowess, Kohli with his sluggish start and the desire to play the anchor role, has not helped India’s cause. Yet, selectors are okay with it and so is he as it continues.

England, the defending champions, had only one batter with a below 140 strike rate in their line-up for the T20 World Cup 2022 final. West Indies had none. India have two — in Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya.

India in T20 World Cup


Why India haven’t had seam-bowling all-rounders? It’s a complex topic. India have tried different players for the role but none has come even close to what Hardik Pandya offers. And that makes it difficult in a batting-heavy side like India.

The mindset of playing T20 like an ODI hasn’t changed either. India’s head coach Rahul Dravid does not seem to worry about the power-hitting skills or the quick 30-40s instead of longer knocks consuming more deliveries.

Another problem has been the over-dependency on Jasprit Bumrah. Yes, Bumrah is one of a kind. But he is also injury-prone and that India still do not have any option as a backup makes it difficult. Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya are the two most important players in India Playing XI and both are injury-prone.

India at World Cup 2011
India last won a World Cup back in 2011

Can India win?

There is no immediate fix unless BCCI wants to move on from the mindset of an ODI team. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill were two of the top scorers of IPL 2023. Yet, it is Rohit Sharma who is certain to open with either of them. Tilak Verma could be an asset a No 3 or 4. And he has proven that in IPL as well. Yet, Virat Kohli continues to hold on to the position even after India’s embarrassing loss in the T20 World Cup 2022 semifinal to England.

The selectors are going in the same direction with the T20 World Cup 2024. Rohit and Virat stay and so does Ravindra Jadeja. And the same mistakes could be repeated.

India only have four regular bowling options with Hardik Pandya being the 5th one. And if there is an injury issue to Hardik during a match, India would not have another option in the team to bowl.

India team management has immense faith in talent rather than form. While it has worked at times, it has backfired more often than not. Selectors will have to move past that and select players based on form and conditions. Having Kohli and Rohit will ensure there is no place for either Shubman Gill or Yashasvi Jaiswal. Even Rinku Singh’s spot will be in danger.


Editors pick

Stop hiding behind big names, selectors must take brave calls for T20 World Cup success
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