Is India ready for split captaincy?

India internationals and Mumbai giants Wasim Jaffer and Abhishek Nayar decode Rohit Sharma – the captain, and how he stands out in the time of Virat Kohli.

Under Rohit's captaincy, India has won the ODI and T20 home series against Sri Lanka, Nidahas Trophy and now Asia Cup.   -  PTI

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped down as the ODI and T20 skipper, he had made it clear that split captaincy doesn’t work in the Indian set-up. Virat Kohli has been a sound limited-overs skipper, but his Test leadership came under scanner post India’s debacle in England.

The series that immediately followed was the Asia Cup. Kohli was rested citing excessive workload. Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma swung his magic wand and India clinched another title under him.

A proven leader in the IPL [three titles with Mumbai Indians] Rohit, who is not even a year-old as Indian captain, has already tasted three crucial series-wins — the ODI and T20 series wins against Sri Lanka at home, Nidahas Trophy in Colombo and now, Asia Cup in the UAE.

Read: Kohli to lead India in Tests, Mayank makes cut

Having an alternative to Kohli could be a blessing, but is India ready for split captaincy? Will it help the regular skipper focus better on overseas tours?

Wasim Jaffer, a veteran of 31 Tests for India and Rohit’s first skipper in Mumbai, feels the selectors could consider the idea. “I don’t think India will tinker with captaincy before World Cup, but when Kohli is not around, Rohit is the best choice. He is second in line.

“In today’s age, captaining all three formats is not an easy task. When India plays so much cricket, it is not a bad idea to have different captains. It may lessen the workload. Going forward, Kohli will obviously pick and choose tournaments. The selectors could think about split captaincy as it will also give him a bit of rest. When you are the captain, you constantly keep thinking about the game and the players. When you are not leading, it relaxes the mind, and in return, you may see him bat more freely,” he told Sportstar on Saturday.

After India beat Bangladesh by three wickets to clinch the title on Friday, Rohit declared he is open to full-time captaincy if offered. “Whenever the opportunity comes, I will be ready,” he said.

How good is Rohit as captain?

Jaffer has seen Rohit’s growth from Dombivli to Borivali, Mumbai to Mumbai Indians and from an opener to a leader. “Rohit has got a good head on his shoulders. He has a sound temperament to be a captain. He doesn’t show lot of emotions. He understands the players and he handles them well, from whatever I have seen him. He has also got results with Mumbai Indians and won trophies for India. He also bats responsibly when leading the side,” Jaffer rated him high.

Also read: 'This is the biggest day of my career'

Abhishek Nayar, another Mumbai stalwart and team-mate of Rohit, revealed the geekish side of the flamboyant batsman. “He is someone who does a lot of homework, watches a lot of cricket and also talks about the game. He also discusses strategies with video analysts, which reflects in his on-field decisions,” he said.

Nayar lauded Rohit’s ‘happy state of mind’ at present. “He is clear and doesn’t get flustered in tough situations. There is a calm demeanour about him. It is his biggest strength.”

Dhoni’s departure as skipper, two years prior to the ICC World Cup in 2019, set the stage for Kohli — to chart a roadmap and build a side for the future.

But workload remains a constant threat to performance and availability.