Kohli, Rohit retire from T20 Internationals after World Cup heroics

Everyone knew Kohli and Rohit were going to walk from the shortest format sooner than later, but for it to happen soon after India won only their second T20 World Cup was a bit unexpected.
Last Updated : 30 June 2024, 01:37 IST

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Barbados: One chose the presentation ceremony to do it. Another chose the press conference to do it.

Either way, the result was the same. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma retired from Twenty20 Internationals on Saturday.

Everyone knew Kohli and Rohit were going to walk from the shortest format sooner than later, but for it to happen soon after India won only their second T20 World Cup was a bit unexpected.

Looking back through the haze that was the final at the Kensington Oval, though, those two announcements, separated by maybe an hour, brought the curtains down on two greats of the format.

Rohit finished on top of the totem pole as the highest run-getter in the format with 4231 runs from 159 games at an average of 32.05.

Kohli was second to him in runs, 4188, but ended with a significantly better average of 48.69 from 125 games.

The only concern, even coming into this tournament, was how they could adapt to the new requirement of this format. They both have a career strike rate of around 140 so that was good for a while but it was getting old and slow quickly.

This meant these touch artists had to relearn the art of attack to suit the format to make themselves relevant to the format, to the team, and the demands of today.

Rohit was able to transition quite nicely at the top having made some adjustments to his mentality, but Kohli didn’t look too comfortable with his new position, the enforced new ideology of gunning for massive strike rates.

While Kohli was able to overcome that in the Indian Premier League, it was always going to be a difficult proposition at a World Cup where the pitches are changing nearly every game.

It didn’t help either that he was desperate to make a point, he even admitted to it at the post-match presentation. Well, how could he not? He had scored 151 runs from, eight games at an average of 18.87 - his worst tournament as a batter by some stretch - while throwing his hands at the ball without being in good positions. He was asked to be a powerplay assassin when he could only be a grafter.

"Great lesson for me, really humbled by the game big time. Put my head down and ego on the side. If you think you are everything and can do wonders, you are nothing. You have to put your head down and respect the situation. And God showed me that if you get too ahead of yourself, then I will pull you back and I will keep you in your spot,” he said there.

"Today I just felt different. I was more anchored, more in sync with the situation. And I was given the composure to just put aside everything that had gone on till now. You are a senior player and people look at you to contribute and to win a World Cup. Rohit and I have spoken many times previously that before we go, we need to win in this format. You can't imagine these things in your wildest dreams."

The truth, though, is that this man-of-the-match knock of 76 from 59 balls was custom-made for Kohli. He had to put his head down and grind it out and revert to playing the only way he organically knew how to get India out of trouble.

In that sense, this was a good knock, but the passage of time wouldn’t have been kind to him had India lost that game.

The Rohit situation is a bit more nuanced because we did see him evolve and find success, scoring 257 runs from eight World Cup games at 36.71 and a strike rate of 156.70. That doesn’t sound like much but it’s the mentality that counts. The kind of mentality which allowed him to score that breathtaking 92 from 41 balls at a strike rate of 224.39 to knock the wind out of Australia. But could Rohit have continued to do that at 37-years-old. No.

It’s a career which started with a title at the 2007 World Cup under MS Dhoni, and it’s a career which ends in the Caribbean in 2024.

Kohl’s tryst with the World Cup in this format hasn’t been nearly as rewarding, but you know what is? To put up your worst showing at an ICC event, and still wear the winner’s hat at the end of it.

India doesn’t need Rohit and Kohli anymore. They need to open up the space for young and expressive talent. Rohit and Kohli were that once. Not anymore.

In that sense, they couldn’t picked a better time to leave. Perhaps, they were also cognisant that they would’ve been asked to leave soon if they didn’t walk away.

This fairytale of a Saturday is, however, exactly what these two doyens deserved, a trophy to cap off careers which will go down as among the best in this format.

Published 30 June 2024, 01:37 IST

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