When Rohit Sharma, like Virat Kohli, didn’t play a single Twenty20 International for more than a year after India’s defeat at the hands of England in the T20 World Cup semi-final in Adelaide in November 2022, the consensus was that India had moved on from the two virtuosos when it came to the shortest format.

Returning to the T20I fold

Whether it had anything to do with the serious ankle injury Hardik Pandya sustained during the home 50-over World Cup game against Bangladesh in October is open to conjecture, but Rohit returned to the T20 set-up, alongside Kohli, for the series against Afghanistan in January, shortly after which BCCI secretary Jay Shah announced that the Mumbaikar would helm India’s challenge at the T20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean in June.

After two consecutive ducks against Afghanistan on his comeback, Rohit settled wagging tongues with a superb century in the final game in Bengaluru, which India won in the second Super Over. That was India’s last international game in that format before the World Cup; after a patchy IPL which he began like a house on fire before suffering a slump in form and signing off with a blazing half-century in Mumbai Indians’s final game, the 37-year-old is primed for potentially one final tilt at World Cup glory in his capacity as captain.

It was in that role that Rohit was phenomenal during the 50-over World Cup. Kohli might have scored more runs, but the impact the skipper’s pyrotechnics made at the top of the order was exceptional. Allied with his astute leadership, it was instrumental in India scything through the draw before being felled in the title clash by Australia, leaving the captain distraught after spearheading a campaign for the ages.

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Now, Rohit has another chance to set the record straight. Part of the champion T20 team of 2007 in his first few months as an international player, he can now carve out his own captaincy legacy to make up for the disappointment of losing both the World Test Championship final and the World Cup final to Pat Cummins’s Australia last year. He has the class as batter, nous as leader and a wealth of talent at his disposal to succeed in that endeavour, but as he has seen from close quarters, that is hardly a guarantee for ultimate glory in an event as demanding as a World Cup, where so many things must go right and just one wrong if one is to be the last team standing.

Role of the enforcer

Rohit will take it upon himself to set the tone for an exciting middle order by playing the role of the enforcer up front. It’s a role that sits lightly on his broad and well-worn shoulders, but Rohit isn’t unaware that he alone can’t win the World Cup. His twin challenges revolve around leading from the front and getting his mates to play to their potential, neither of which is beyond him.

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