“It is almost impossible to play with…”: Shoaib Akhtar’s View On Rohit Sharma’s Captaincy With Blunt ‘MS Dhoni Remark’

The ODI World Cup 2023 anticipation is building among Indian cricket fans, with hopes for a triumphant performance on home soil. However, former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar doubts India’s ability to handle the pressure of such a high-stakes tournament and has reservations about Rohit Sharma’s captaincy.

In a candid conversation on “Backstage With Boria,” Akhtar acknowledged the immense pressure of playing in a World Cup, especially for a team with the expectations of India. He mentioned that such pressure can be almost paralyzing and emphasized that captains play a pivotal role in managing it and helping their teams perform under it.

Akhtar praised former Indian captain MS Dhoni’s ability to soak in pressure and protect his teammates from its negative effects. He noted that under Dhoni’s leadership, India won the 2007 World T20, the 2011 World Cup, and the 2013 Champions Trophy. However, he believes that after Dhoni stepped down as captain, the team’s performance in major tournaments suffered.

“First, it is the pressure you all put on the team. It is almost impossible to play with such pressure. Like I told you, it is as if you can’t lose. If you, God forbid, lose, all hell will break loose,” he said.

When discussing Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, Akhtar expressed concerns about how Rohit handles pressure in crucial moments. He indicated that Rohit tends to panic under pressure and that the weight of captaincy might be affecting his performance. Akhtar also drew parallels to the experience of Virat Kohli, suggesting that the pressure of leadership could have also hindered his performance.

“The second and more important point is you had someone who could soak in all the pressure and protect his teammates. He would not let his teammates feel the pressure, which was the best thing about MS Dhoni. You won the 2007 World T20 under him, the 2011 World Cup, and then the 2013 Champions Trophy. The moment Dhoni gave up the captaincy, things went south for India. When I see Rohit, I keep asking the question of myself if he should have accepted captaincy in the first place. I think Rohit occasionally feels panic and lets the pressure get to him. The pressure of captaincy cripples you, and it happened with Virat Kohli. That’s why you don’t win a major tournament,” Akhtar opined.

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While Akhtar questioned whether Rohit should have accepted captaincy in the first place, he also recognized Rohit’s exceptional batting talent. He described Rohit as a classical batsman who can play remarkable shots. Akhtar maintained that India has a team capable of winning the World Cup, and he called on Rohit to prove his doubts wrong and lead India to victory.

“Make no mistake, Rohit does have the team to win the World Cup. As a batter, he is perhaps more talented than Virat Kohli also. He is a classical batsman, and the kind of shots he plays is just mind-blowing. But with captaincy, is he being able to do that? Let him prove me and all of us wrong, for that’s what all of India will want him to do in this World Cup,” he further stressed.

The upcoming World Cup will be a test of India’s cricketing skills and their mental fortitude to handle the pressure that comes with playing on home turf. As the tournament approaches, cricket enthusiasts will eagerly await the outcome and whether Rohit Sharma can rise to the occasion and guide his team to glory.

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