In Rohit Sharma's India, pieces of what Virat Kohli left behind as Pakistan steamrolled in lop-sided World Cup bummer

15 Oct 2023

This may be Rohit Sharma's Indian team but certain lingering pieces of Virat Kohli's tenure cannot go unnoticed
November of 2021 was tumultuous time in Indian cricket, perhaps its most strenuous chapter since the 2013 spot fixing scandal. The Virat Kohli vs Sourav Ganguly feud was out in the open for public consumption after India's most successful Test captain was sacked from ODIs. Kohli had given up T20I captaincy but was keen to continue in one-dayers with a hope to win the World Cup at home. But Ganguly and BCCI had other plans, with Kohli eventually succumbing, his thoughts not aligning with the board's
With India fresh off a World Cup elimination, the baton passed to Rohit Sharma. He was expected to give India what Kohli couldn't – an ICC silverware – but pretty soon, even the most successful IPL captain realised that leading India is far more challenging than Mumbai Indians. Rohit and Rahul Dravid were given a team Kohli and Ravi Shastri helped build, so when most of them went absent due to injuries, India were not ready for the repercussions – such as failing to qualify for last year's Asia Cup final and a defeat to Bangladesh which no one saw coming.
When Kohli left, Mohammed Siraj was giving Ishant Sharma stiff competition as India's third pacer in Tests, Kuldeep Yadav was away in the wilderness and Jasprit Bumrah was fatigued. Two years down the line, all three of their fortunes have swung the entire arc. Siraj is the world's No. 1 ODI bowler, Kuldeep is this year's second-highest wicket-taker and Bumrah is even more menacing than before. India at its full strength can ransack oppositions at will, and after a testing year-long-wait, Rohit is finally at a space where he can enjoy this luxury, but he wouldn't have been in this position had he not played a role in nourishing the emotionally-damaged and mentally-wrecked Kuldeep and making a full-of-promise Siraj realise his ODI pedigree.