Indian cricket has witnessed several giant cricketers over all these years with their stature being referred to as big as of ‘GOD’s. The list that starts with the legendary Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, hasn’t opted to stop since then. In modern-day cricket, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are referred to as the two greats of the game, however, do they really justify their tag of being called greats? Is this term something which they own or have been given just on the basis of their records in the bilateral series?
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli belong to BCCI’s team India and both the cricketers have almost started off at similar age. While Rohit stepped into the cricket field for the first time in 2007, Virat came into the picture in 2008.
Virat Kohli has played sensational cricket ever since he joined Indian cricket, at the highest level, while Rohit Sharma had an underwhelming show during the early stages of his career where he used to play the finisher’s role and he was more of termed an all-rounder. Sharma’s cricketing career was revived when MS Dhoni asked him to open the innings for India during late 2012 and he never turned back since then.
Since their debuts (Rohit and Virat), both the Indians have played several splendid performances for the team and more often than not take their side to a win. Both have dominated world cricket and everyone knows how brutal they can be on their day. Following their outstanding records in the bilateral series, the two are termed as the greats and the match winners but do they really are?
India has never won any major ICC title since 2013. How can this be possible, the Indian team that dominates the world cricket couldn’t manage to win a single ICC tournament ever since MS Dhoni stepped down from the captaincy.
The answer to this question lies in India’s top order failure which majorly focuses on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
India has stepped into the semi-finals of every ICC tournament since 2013, but their stints in the knockout games have been forgettable. India reached the 50-over World Cup semifinal, 2017 Champions Trophy final, 2019 World Cup semifinal and even the final of the ICC World Test Championship, but have lost all on the trot.
The fact that the Indian top order has never played a match-defining innings during the ICC knockout matches has been predominantly the major factor for India’s inability to lift the ICC title.
Have a look at Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s performances in the major ICC knockouts since 2013.
2015 ODI World Cup semifinal:
In the 2015 ODI World Cup against Australia, Virat Kohli scored a mere 1 run while Rohit Sharma, who got off to a fine start, couldn’t manage to build the innings. Sharma amassed 34 runs against Australia, which apparently is Rohit’s favourite opponent.
2016 T20 World Cup Semifinal:
The 2016 T20 World Cup semifinal has a kind of similar story but this time it is for bowlers. Rohit Sharma amassed a fine 43 runs against West Indies while Virat Kohli went on to play 89 runs innings to take India’s total to 192 runs, which looked to be enough to defend against the mighty Caribbeans, however, it was not that easy for the determined West Indies.
2017 Champions Trophy Final:
In the 2017 Champions Trophy final against Pakistan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli went for a mere 1 and 5 scores respectively.
2019 ODI World Cup semifinal:
2019 ODI World Cup Semi-Final against New Zealand had an identical story to convey, India’s top order brutally failed to give a good start. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were cleaned for 1 run apiece.
ICC World Test Championship final:
The inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand hasn’t been memorable either for the Indian’s. The story of top-order failure continued as Virat Kohli added 44 & 13 and Rohit Sharma scored 34 & 30.
Rohit and Virat, not a genuine match winner:
In all these ICC knockout events, Rohit and Virat have collectively failed to score runs and take India to a good solid start. The two, who are the main pillars of Indian cricket, haven’t contributed to the important matches that are of enormous significance.
It is wise to call someone great or a genuine match-winner when he fails to put up his hands on important occasions for his country. The bilateral series have their own importance, but is there anything bigger than winning an ICC crowned title?
To cement a legacy, a cricketer needs to come forth and take up the responsibility to play a match-defining innings for his team, regardless of the situation. That is how Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and several others have created their legacy of being a real match-winner.
Yuvraj Singh overcame his mental barrier in the 2011 World Cup to be adjudged as the Man of the tournament for his all-rounder performance. It is noteworthy that Yuvraj was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 but the all-rounder continued to give his valuable services to the team.
Gautam Gambhir played two crucial innings in the 2007 T20 World Cup final and the 2011 ODI World Cup final to be termed as the real match-winner.
Error Correction time for Virat and Rohit:
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma still have a few more years of cricket left in them. With back to back World Cups lined up ahead, both of them have their own shares of opportunities to correct the errors and put up a stamp of authority over their legacy in World Cricket.
Though Virat will step down from the T20I captaincy, he will still be there with the Indian team for his batting services. It could be a blessing in disguise for Virat Kohli, who make amends in his batting records in ICC knockouts after he gets relieved of his T20I captaincy.
Rohit Sharma is the frontrunner to get the highest order roles and responsibilities of India’s T20I team after Virat Kohli. He has been successful in the IPL, in fact, the most successful skipper in the IPL, with five titles under his belt. If Rohit can take India to ICC wins in coming years with his apt captaincy, India can be the real threat for the other teams.
Both of them have every weapon they require in their arsenal, but mental strength is something they lack. No one can beat Virat and Rohit on their day and they can fade away everyone’s legacy with their sensational gameplay.
India will play the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia followed by the 2023 ODI World Cup in India and the ICC World Test Championship in 2023.