‘Rohit’s a leader and I expect him to captain India till the T20 World Cup’

Impressed with his captaincy at the ODI World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly on Friday threw his weight behind Rohit Sharma, saying he should lead India at least till the T20 World Cup in June next year.

Rohit, who led India to the ODI World Cup final at home, and Virat Kohli has taken a “break” for the white-ball leg of the upcoming South Africa series beginning on December 10.

Talking to reporters, Ganguly said the duo deserved this rest so that they come back “fresh” for the hectic calendar ahead.

“Once Rohit is back playing all formats, he should be the captain of India, because he has done so well in the World Cup,” said the former BCCI president, who was named the Dabur Chyawanprash’s brand ambassador for East India, during a program in Kolkata.

“You saw in the World Cup how well they played. They are absolutely integral and an important part of Indian cricket.”

Interestingly, both Rohit and Kohli haven’t played a T20I since the semifinals against England in the 2022 T20 World Cup and the BCCI was not clear whether the duo should be in India’s scheme of things for the T20 global showpiece in six months’ time.

After the 2022 T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya was named India’s T20 captain but following his injury during the ODI World Cup, Suryakumar Yadav is leading the team in the ongoing five-T20 series against Australia.

“World Cups are different than a bilateral series because the pressures are different. They have been exceptional this World Cup and hopefully six-seven months down the line in the West Indies they will be again at their best,” Ganguly said.

“He’s (Rohit) a leader. I expect and I presume that he will continue as captain till the T20 World Cup in 2024.”

The duo will be back for the two-Test series in South Africa beginning with the Boxing Day Test in Centurion.

“Very rightfully, they have taken a break because there is so much cricket all the time. I cannot imagine that you played a World Cup final on the 19th and in three days’ time you’re playing a T20I series against the same team,” Ganguly said.

“It is not easy to pick yourselves up, especially with the pressures and demands of the World Cup. I’m happy that they have got a break

“They will come back fresh for Tests — there’re five Tests against England — there’s IPL, and then the T20 World Cup, so it’s non-stop cricket. Hopefully they’ll come back fresh and keep performing.” 

Happy for Dravid

The BCCI has also extended the contract of India head coach Rahul Dravid at least till the T20 World Cup, even though the exact duration of his second term is not yet known.

It was during Ganguly’s BCCI tenure that Dravid had become the head coach and the former India lefthander was happy for his teammate’s contract extension.

“I’m not surprised that they have shown faith in Dravid. When I was president of the Board, we convinced him to do this job. And I’m so happy to see yesterday that his tenure has been extended.

“It was always the case, depending on whether he wanted it or not. I wish him luck for another World Cup in June. He was very close this time.

“They may not have won it, but they probably were the best team in the competition with the way they played. So he’s got another seven months for a World Cup in the West Indies. Hopefully, at that time, he will not be runners-up, but a champion,” he said.

Asked about India’s title drought at an ICC global showpiece, Ganguly said: “Hopefully they will cross the bridge one day.”

“As a captain, I’ve qualified for three finals, and lost twice — 2003 World Cup and 2001 Champions Trophy. So I don’t have the right to say how to win finals. I managed just one win that too as joint winners with Sri Lanka (2002 Champions Trophy),” he said.

“At least, they are making the final and by dominating the tournament. Hopefully they will cross the bridge one day, their luck will change. There is no rocket science.

“At Australia 47/3, India had a great chance, one wicket and it would have been different. But it’s past now.”

Thank you Pujara, Rahane

Test specialist batters — Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane — were not included for the two Tests against South Africa.

“At some point of time you have to play new talents. It happens, there is enormous talent in India and the team has to progress. Pujara and Rahane had enormous success for India, sport doesn’t remain with you forever,” Ganguly said.

“You cannot be there forever, it will happen to everyone. I must thank them what they have done for Indian cricket and selectors want fresh faces, so that’s the way it is.”

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