Rohit Sharma to lead India at 2024 T20 World Cup – Rahul Dravid to remain head coach

Rohit Sharma will lead India at the 2024 men’s T20 World Cup. BCCI secretary Jay Shah said as much on Wednesday, while speaking to the media at an event in Rajkot, adding that Rahul Dravid‘s tenure as head coach of the team will also run till the global tournament*.

This will be the second time Rohit leads India at a T20 World Cup, having done it in 2022 as well. In that tournament, played in Australia, India lost the semi-final to eventual champions England. Rohit did not feature in T20Is after that, not playing a single T20I in 2023. But he was called back in January 2024, to lead against Afghanistan. That move from the selectors seemed to signal Rohit was all but certain to lead at the World Cup, which will be played in the USA and West Indies in June. Shah, today, confirmed the same.

“The fact that he was returning after a year to lead in the Afghanistan series recently meant he was obviously going to [lead in the T20 World Cup],” Shah said at an event to rename the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot the Niranjan Shah Cricket Stadium.

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Under Rohit, India lost last year’s ODI World Cup final at home, and days later Suryakumar Yadav was leading the T20I side against Australia. Suryakumar also led India in the shortest format in South Africa in December, and Mumbai Indians announced that Hardik Pandya would be taking over captaincy of the franchise from Rohit. Then, Rohit made his comeback against Afghanistan in January. After bagging ducks in the first two matches, he scored 121 not out, becoming the first man to five T20I hundreds.

Shah said that while Rohit will lead India at the World Cup, Hardik – who had led India in the shortest format in several series in 2023 – remains the primary long-term option. Shah said Rohit’s recall in the short term was necessitated by Hardik getting injured during the ODI World Cup. “In T20s, Hardik will be the captain for certain [in the future].

“Rohit has the ability, we know. As he showed in the ODI World Cup where we won 10 matches in a row until the final. I am confident that India will lift the 2024 T20 World Cup under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy in Barbados.”

Will Virat Kohli play 2024 T20 World Cup?

Like Rohit, India’s selection committee, led by former pacer Ajit Agarkar, had also recalled Virat Kohli for T20I series against Afghanistan. And like Rohit, Kohli, too, was back for the format for the first time since the 2022 T20 World Cup.

Asked today whether Kohli will be part of the showpiece event in June, Shah merely said: “We will talk about him [soon].” Kohli had opted out of the first match of the Afghanistan series for personal reasons, but played the final two games, scoring 29 and a duck.

Since then Kohli has not played, having opted out of the England Test series too for personal reasons. Shah said the BCCI will continue to support Kohli but offered no other details on his absence. “If a person, for the first time in a 15-year career, asks for personal leave, it’s his right. Virat is not a player who will ask for leave for no reason. We need to trust our player and back him.”

Dravid to remain head coach till T20 World Cup

Dravid’s contract ended after the ODI World Cup final last year, but he was asked to continue in his role along with other support staff for the December-January tour to South Africa without finalising the tenure. But Shah said that he had held an initial talk with Dravid before arriving at the decision to retain him.

“After the [2023 ODI] World Cup, Rahul bhai had to leave for the South Africa tour immediately. We did not get to meet in between which finally happened today,” Shah said in Rajkot. “Why are you worried about a contract for such a senior person like Rahul Dravid? Rahul bhai will remain the coach in the T20 World Cup.”

Shah, however, indicated that the BCCI will hold a few more rounds of discussions ahead of the event. “I will speak with him whenever there is time, there are back-to-back series happening right now,” Shah said. “They were in South Africa, then there was a [T20I] series against Afghanistan and now England. We did not get to speak in between at all.”

Will India travel to the Champions Trophy in Pakistan?

Shah was also asked whether India would travel to Pakistan next year to play the 2025 Champions Trophy, which is scheduled to be between February and March. Shah said that was not for the BCCI to decide but for the government of India.

“India’s position [on travelling to Pakistan] would be based on what the government decides,” he said.

Pakistan travelled to India for the 2023 World Cup but, just before that, in August-September last year, the Asia Cup – hosted by the PCB – was played across Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with India playing all their games in Sri Lanka. With political ties between the two countries being strained, India have not travelled to Pakistan for a cricket series since the 2008 Asia Cup.

Mandatory for contracted players to play domestic cricket

Shah also said that it is mandatory for centrally contracted players, as well as those in the wider India pool as shortlisted by the national selectors, to play domestic cricket tournaments as directed. Shah said he spoke with Agarkar recently and gave him a “free hand” to take calls on the matter.

Shah’s opinion on this was sought specifically because there has been questions surrounding wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan, who has not been playing the Ranji Trophy for Jharkhand despite being left out of the India squad for the ongoing England Test series.

Shah said while he would not draw attention to Kishan specifically, he would be sending out a directive soon that all fit centrally contracted players need to make themselves available for selection in domestic cricket. “I am going to write a letter tomorrow that if the chairman of selectors, coach or captain tell you that you have to play red-ball cricket, then you have to play. We will follow the NCA [National Cricket Academy] medical staff advice on player fitness. If you are fit then no excuse [for not playing] will be entertained.

“This applies to all centrally contracted players, they have to play. The player cannot decide his future, the selectors need to decide that. If the player is good in red-ball, he has to play [the format].”

* The article was updated at 5.30am GMT on February 15, 2024

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