Rohit Sharma top contender to replace Virat Kohli as India T20 captain

Kohli has decided to step down as 20-over captain following the World Cup in UAE

India's captain Virat Kohli (R) celebrates with India's India's Rohit Sharma the wicket of New Zealand's Matt Henry for one during the 2019 Cricket World Cup first semi-final between New Zealand and India at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on July 10, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

Rohit Sharma has emerged as the top candidate to take over as India's T20 captain following Virat Kohli's decision to step down from the position following the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

Kohli's failure to win any major world titles in any format had been a contentious issue for many years, especially when compared to Rohit's wins in multi-team tournaments like the Asia Cup, Nidahas Trophy and IPL.

And after the Indian cricket board announced the appointment of former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as mentor for the T20 World Cup, it became clear that change was afoot in Indian cricket.

Kohli on Thursday brought some much needed clarity in the leadership structure of India by deciding to move away from T20 captaincy to focus on leadership in Tests and ODIs, and also his batting form which has stalled to an extent, albeit without any alarming dip.

Rohit is widely considered the most astute white-ball captain in Indian cricket, right up there with Dhoni. And former India players are backing the Mumbai batsman to lead the team.

Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar said handing the captaincy reins to Rohit was a straightforward decision.

"Rohit deserves to be India's next T20 captain because he has done well whenever he's been given an opportunity to lead India," Vengsarkar told the Times of India.

"In 2018, India won the Asia Cup under his captaincy. Beside that, he's been an exceptional captain for the Mumbai Indians, having led them to five IPL titles."

However, former captain and opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar said while Rohit was the ideal candidate to lead in 20-overs cricket, India should groom KL Rahul as the future white-ball captain.

"It's important to think ahead," Gavaskar told Sports Tak programme.

"He has been performing well in IPL and 50-overs cricket as well at the international stage. He can be made vice-captain."

However, with the 50-over World Cup scheduled to be held in 2023, Indian media is reporting that Rohit could even be named the ODI captain.

That could be a tricky situation as Kohli has made it clear he wishes to continue as Test and ODI captain.

What is also likely to make the situation challenging is the impending change in the coaching structure. Ravi Shastri's tenure is expected to end after the T20 World Cup and whoever replaces him will have to contend with a unique challenge in Indian cricket - split captaincy.

Updated: September 17th 2021, 8:13 AM