‘Rohit Sharma won’t play every series’: Ex-batter names ‘born leader’ ‘Hardik Pandya as India’s next captain

Former India batter Hemang Badani, in an exclusive chat with the Hindustan Times ahead of the Bangladesh ODIs, which will mark the return of Rohit, Kohli and Rahul, spoke about the need to have different teams for T20Is, ODIs and Tests.

Indian cricket had never seen seven different captains in a year before 2022. In fact, apart from Sri Lanka in 2017, no other team has. Sri Lanka’s seven-captain year in 2017 was under vastly different circumstances. They were searching for their next leader and had no option but to try out different options as the team struggled to get the desired results. For India, there were no such doubts. Rohit Sharma has been the all-format captain since February this year. But the opener has hardly led India in all formats. Out of India’s seven ODI series since the change of guard from Virat Kohli to Rohit Sharma, the latter has played in only two. He missed four due to workload management and one in South Africa, because of an injury. Either KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan stepped in to lead India in Rohit’s absence.

It’s not like Rohit was the only player taking breaks to stay fresh for the T20 World Cup. Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, and Ravindra Jadeja were also on the list of BCCI’s workload management. But being the captain, shouldn’t Rohit have played more? Did he have an option? Former India cricketer Hemang Badani thinks he didn’t as it is “practically impossible” for someone to play in every series.

“With the World Cup coming and with us still at a phase where we aren’t clear about our side, we necessarily have to try out a lot more players. Yes, to a large extent it does help to have the same captain in all formats but it’s practically impossible for Rohit Sharma to be able to play and sustain in every series. They will have to find the right balance but it’s not possible for Rohit to play every series, that’s not gonna happen. That is going to be the way forward. A lot of us will feel why this should happen now. It was never the case in the past. But cricket has changed now. Every top player in every side does take a break here and there,” Badani told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat ahead of the Bangladesh ODIs, which will mark the return of Rohit, Kohli and Rahul.

Cricket has indeed changed a lot. An Indian cricketer will perhaps get to spend only a month or two at home at best if he plays every series in every format. Badani, therefore, feels India should go for different teams for T20Is, ODIs and Tests.

“I’m all for creating a different squad for all three formats. That’s where the world is heading. The way T20 is played, ODIs are played and Test cricket is played are different. It’s still the same game but a lot has changed. It’s like a 100m race, 200m race and a 400m race. All of them depend on running but they are run differently. You need completely different training, mindset and preparation. I know for a fact that this will happen, how quickly it happens, will have to wait and see but it will happen,” Badani, who played in 4 Tests and 40 ODIs, said.

When asked the former left-hander, who has recently quashed reports of applying for the national selector’s post, about his pick for India’s captain going ahead, he had no doubts before naming Hardik Pandya. “Hardik is ready. Whatever I get to hear of him, he seems like a born leader.”

‘Give Sanju Samson more chances’
Apart from the frequent breaks of top Indian cricketers, another major talking point ahead of the three-match series against Bangladesh is the absence of Shubman Gill and Sanju Samson from India’s ODI squad. While Gill has an average of 70 and a strike rate of 102 in ODIs since the West Indies tour this year, Samson too has done well in the limited opportunities that he has got.

“Not necessary that everyone will get to play every series. That does not mean you are dropped or you are not good enough. This is like a dress rehearsal for the World Cup. With what happened in the T20 World Cup last month. We would want to be better prepared more so because we are playing at home, everybody will expect us to win.

“The guys like Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant will have to be tried out. Especially someone like Sanju Samson needs to be given a decent run. You hardly play him a game, then you say you need an extra bowler, you bring back Deepak Hooda. Nothing against Hooda but in the bargain, you are always compromising a Sanju Samson. If you are looking at him in the mix of things for next year’s World, which I think you should, then it’s only fair that you give him a decent run. You gave Shreyas Iyer a decent run. We know for a fact that Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav will play the World Cup, it’s more about finding the other player now,” Badani said.