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Time for modern-day ODI greats, Virat & Rohit, to focus only on Test cricket?

Time for modern-day ODI greats, Virat Kohli & Rohit Sharma, to focus only on Test cricket?

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma to focus on Test Cricket after Cricket World Cup 2023 final loss? Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©X_Twitter)
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma during a partnership in Test (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

India's dominant run in the World Cup met a heartbreaking end with a defeat against Australia in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 final. Though nearly two weeks have passed, the sting of the loss still resonates, affecting not only the India team but also its fans. Captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, two stalwarts of Indian cricket, have yet to make any public statements after the final.

In the tournament, both players delivered exceptional performances, with Virat Kohli emerging as the leading run-scorer, amassing a record-breaking 765 runs, and Rohit Sharma securing the second position with 597 runs. Despite their individual brilliance, the final outcome did not favour them on the grand match day.

As ODIs are becoming infrequent, and the next ODI Cricket World Cup is four years away, the question arises: Do Virat and Rohit have what it takes to participate in the next World Cup, or should the BCCI focus on nurturing new talents for this marquee event?

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma to focus on Test Cricket after Cricket World Cup 2023 final loss? | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Virat, Rohit both have over 10,000 runs on ODI (Photo: ©BCCI/Twitter)

The Looming Question: Next ODI World Cup or New Talents?

Rohit Sharma, leading from the front at 36, and Virat Kohli, at 35, are not getting any younger. By the ICC Cricket World Cup 2027, they will be in their late 30s, which is not considered prime age, given the modern-day demands of the game. This might be an opportune time for the team management to invest in new players for the next World Cup, a process already initiated for the upcoming challenging South Africa tour.

However, there should be no doubt about the class of these two individuals. Virat is closing in on 14000 ODI runs, while Rohit is on the path to reaching 11000 runs in the format. If the situation demands, these modern-day gladiators of ODI cricket can re-enter the team at any time. They are true legends of the format, and the future of their ODI careers remains to be seen.

While the ODI World Cup is four years away, the immediate concern is the ICC T20 World Cup. There are doubts about the participation of these two legends in the tournament. They haven't played a single T20I game in 2023 and opted out of the South Africa series as well. With only a handful of T20 games for India before the World Cup, the IPL becomes their only source of T20 cricket, concluding just days before the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.

This raises the question of whether they have moved on from the format or if they will make a comeback on the big stage. Their potential inclusion in the T20 World Cup may pose challenges for emerging players like Jaiswal, Kishan, Gaikwad, or Gill, who are set to play specific roles in the lead-up to the tournament. However, the impeccable records of Virat and Rohit in the format and their potential impact on the team could tip the scales in their favour regarding T20 World Cup participation.

The Crossroads: Continuing Limited-Overs or Embracing Test Cricket

Despite the T20 focus, India is a country that values Test cricket. Two key reasons for India's Test success are Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Kohli elevated India to the pinnacle of Test cricket by building a formidable team during his captaincy tenure, while Rohit Sharma has led remarkably in his ongoing stint as captain. Both have guided the team to a World Test Championship final each as Test captain, but unfortunately, India lost both contests.

Apart from an elusive ICC Trophy for the past decade, the duo has achieved almost everything in both forms of white-ball cricket. They have been pillars of the team, but is it time for them to shift their focus to Test cricket and possibly bid adieu to the other two formats?

Having lost two WTC finals in two attempts, Virat and Rohit should concentrate on rectifying things in the ongoing WTC cycle, bringing glory to the team in the longest format. After all, they have always prioritized Tests, and securing a WTC title could be a fitting culmination of their illustrious careers.

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