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ipl 2024: challenges and expectations for rohit sharma and virat kohli | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will enter IPL-2024 knowing India’s ICC trophy stocks have been depleted by years of drought.
For both, the IPL will be a prelude to that elusive quest, another World Cup title, in the US and Caribbean in June. Form, fitness, technique and approach will be fine-tuned while strutting their stuff in franchise colours.

The T20 WC follows but first, they must look the part.

Looming issues of relevance seem to have been addressed for the moment, at least for one of them, Rohit has already been named India’s T20I captain for the WC by the BCCI secretary.
For Kohli, issues of relevance would seem a no-brainer: he is a T20 giant and certainly the most consistent in India’s wins. Among other things, he has scored 518 runs in nine innings while successfully chasing a target in the T20 World Cup, remaining unbeaten eight times.
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Lately, concerns about his strike rates in certain situations have crumbled under closer scrutiny. Last season, Kohli scored 639 runs from 14 outings for RCB at a strike rate of 139.82, with two hundreds. This would suggest a late-career resurgence. How do you keep a trump card like him out of the T20I team?

Logically too, it would seem that if the selectors have picked Rohit, they must pick Kohli. This return to the old guard in cricket’s freshest format is not because the country lacks new talent far from it but because of the yearning to fill that empty ICC cupboard in the Rohit-Kohli era of Indian cricket.
Remember, it was assumed after the 2022 T20 WC in Australia that there would be no more T20 comebacks for both. That sentiment changed after India’s formidable performance in the 50-over WC late last year. It was subsequently felt that the current dispensation under head coach Rahul Dravid with these two batting stalwarts in tow deserves another go at another title.
As Rohit said in the wake of India’s comprehensive and heart-wrenching defeat to Australia in the 50-over WC final, “it was just pure love from people… it was wonderful to see … it gives you motivation to get back and start working again and look for another ultimate prize”.

It’s time, then, for another fling at the “ultimate prize” that has eluded for so long, and the road starts here with the IPL. No doubt it is the last such attempt for Rohit and Kohli.
For both, the IPL must set the tone for the upcoming WC. This is, however, a task made onerous by the oddball dynamics of franchise cricket.
Rohit may have been named India’s skipper but he has just lost the Mumbai Indians captaincy to Hardik Pandya. The same Pandya who, it was assumed before Jay Shah’s proclamation in Rajkot, would have been the natural successor to Rohit as India’s T20 captain.
It is with the bat, then, that Rohit must make a statement. Except he has been in woeful form in the IPL for a while. He averaged 19.14 in 2022 and 20.75 in 2023 for MI. From 2017 to 2023, across 100 IPL innings, Rohit averages 24.60 with no hundreds and 13 fifties. He went 24 innings without a fifty from April 29, 2021 to April 8, 2023.

Rohit did score a century, his fifth in T20Is, against Afghanistan in Bengaluru this Jan, but seems to be in a deep, IPL specific slump brought on by his desire to dominate bowlers from the get-go.
Kohli, meanwhile, likes to open for his franchise but bat at No. 3 for India. His presence in the India side complicates selection matters with the likes of Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shivam Dube, Tilak Varma all jostling for top and middle-order berths. Though he is not an IPL captain anymore, Kohli needs that title win with RCB to define the narrative.
India will hope Rohit and Kohli can exude an aura of winnability for their IPL franchises before some anticipated World Cup heroics. And then maybe, at the end of the long summer, that big prize will follow.

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