The cricketing world is abuzz with speculation regarding the return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to T20 International cricket. The duo, who took a hiatus after India’s semifinal loss in the 2022 T20 World Cup, has raised questions about when and whether they will resume their T20I careers. Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar and Irfan Pathan recently engaged in a discussion, expressing differing opinions.
India’s impressive 4-1 series win against Australia marked the beginning of their preparations for the T20 World Cup in June 2023. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have extended their break from T20I cricket, prompting discussions about their potential return.
Manjrekar emphasizes that the return of Rohit and Kohli should be contingent on their form in the T20 format. Kohli must prove himself against emerging young batters, while Rohit faces competition with all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
“We may play slightly different cricket in the final stages of World Cups. When something goes out of your hand, simplify it. Pick your team based on form close to the World Cup. Virat Kohli will have to show that he is a better option than the youngsters who are playing currently, and Rohit Sharma as T20 batter and captain vs Hardik Pandya, the T20 batter, all-rounder and captain,” said Manjrekar.
Pathan argues for a blend of youth and experience in the team, citing the successful 2007 T20 World Cup-winning squad. The 2007 team, despite being labeled as young and inexperienced, had seasoned players like Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni, and others.
“I feel the Indian team should combine experience and youth. When we won the last T20 World Cup in 2007, many said a young and inexperienced team won the title, but that wasn’t it. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had been playing for a while then. Dhoni and I were also part of the team for almost four years. Ajit Agarkar, Yuvraj Singh, and Harbhajan Singh were there as well. So you must combine experience with youth, especially when batting gets tricky,” Irfan Pathan said.
Manjrekar, while acknowledging the importance of experience, recalls the 2007 T20 World Cup final, hinting at the crucial role played by unheralded Joginder Sharma. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are notably absent from the South Africa T20I series, awaiting discussions with the BCCI regarding their T20I future.
“I agree with experience, but if you remember that T20 World Cup win, it was Joginder Sharma who won that final for us,” Manjrekar concluded.
The debate surrounding the return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to T20I cricket underscores the balancing act between experience and youth. While Manjrekar advocates for form-based selections, Pathan highlights the success of combining seasoned campaigners with emerging talent.