India's chief selector Chetan Sharma has insisted Virat Kohli was asked to reconsider his decision to step down as the team's T20I captain.

Kohli confirmed before the T20 World Cup that he would leave his role as India skipper in the shortest format, though he does intend to carry on playing in the team.

The 33-year-old also believed he would continue as ODI and Test captain. However, he is now only the skipper for red ball matches, with Rohit Sharma leading the side in limited overs games.

Rohit, however, will not skipper India's white ball side in South Africa, with the batsman missing out due to a hamstring injury, with KL Rahul instead named as captain for the three-match ODI series.

Rahul has never led India before in any format, though he will at least be able to call on the experience of Kohli, who has been included in the 18-man squad and led India to victory in the first Test this week.

While announcing the squad at a news conference on Friday, Chetan was asked if Kohli's claims that he had not been asked to reconsider his decision were true, with those comments having contradicted BCCI president Sourav Ganguly's previous claim.

"When the meeting started, it was a surprise for everybody," Chetan said.

"Because the World Cup is upon you and you hear this news, what will be the reaction of a normal person?

"Everyone who was present in the meeting asked him to reconsider, to rethink; 'We can talk about this after the World Cup'. All the selectors felt this could affect the performance in the World Cup.

"It was told to Virat for the sake of Indian cricket to please continue as captain. It was told to him by everybody available in the meeting. Everybody said that.

"Who will not say that when you hear such news? You will be in shock. What will be your instant reaction? It was a matter of the World Cup.

"We thought let's talk after the World Cup. We told Virat the World Cup is upon us, and everybody requested let's talk after the World Cup.

"But he has his plans. We have to respect his decision. If someone has taken a decision, and he said in the media also, that he was thinking [along these lines] from the time of WTC, but at that time everybody told him to think about it."

Jasprit Bumrah will act as vice captain against the Proteas, while R Ashwin earned a recall for the first time since 2017 and Venkatesh Iyer received his maiden ODI call up.

The ODIs take place on January 19, 21 and 23.


India's squad in full:  KL Rahul (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah (vice-capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj.

Virat Kohli has insisted he was not asked to reconsider his decision to step down as India's T20I skipper and says he was not aware he might lose the ODI captaincy.

Kohli confirmed in September that he had decided to take a step back from leading India in the shortest format after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

However, he had agreed to stay on as India's ODI and Test captain, and remain available for selection in T20Is.

India failed to progress from the Super 12s in the World Cup, with Rohit Sharma named as captain for the subsequent T20 series against New Zealand.

But on December 8, Rohit was named India's new permanent white-ball captain.

The BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, explained that the selectors felt there would have too much leadership within the white-ball squad had there been two captains for each of the formats.

Ganguly also claimed that Kohli had been asked to stay on as captain. However, the batsman has contradicted this statement.

 

"When I decided to leave the T20I captaincy and approached the BCCI about my decision, it was received well," Kohli told reporters.

"There was no offence or hesitation, I wasn't told to reconsider it. It was received well; I was told it's progressive and it's a step in the right direction.

"Then I told them I'd like to continue in Tests and ODIs, unless the office bearers and selectors feel otherwise.

"My communication was clear in what I wanted to do. I gave them the option, that if they feel I shouldn't [remain captain in Tests and/or ODIs], the decision is in their hands."

Kohli, who is staying on as Test captain, also revealed he was only told of the BCCI's decision to replace him as ODI skipper an hour-and-a-half prior to the squad announcement for India's upcoming red-ball tour of South Africa.

"I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on December 8 for the Test series," Kohli said.

"There was no prior communication to me at all from when I announced the T20I captaincy decision until December 8, when I got a call before the selection meeting.

"The chief selector [Chetan Sharma] discussed with me the Test team, to which we both agreed, and before ending the call I was told the five selectors have decided I will not be the ODI captain, to which I replied, "okay, fine".

"In the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. That's what happened. There was no communication prior to that at all."

But Kohli is adamant the captaincy call will not impact his preparation for the South Africa Test series.

He added: "To be prepared for a tour like this and to perform to the best of my abilities, nothing has, and nothing can derail me from that.

"A lot of things that happen on the outside are not ideal and not how one expects them to be, but you have to understand you can only do so much as an individual and we have to keep thing in tight perspective and do things that are in your control.

"I'm focussed, mentally prepared, and excited to do the best I can for the team and make the team win."

Rohit Sharma has been ruled out of India's Test series in South Africa after suffering a hamstring injury.

India's new Test vice-captain sustained the injury in a training session in Mumbai on Sunday.

The uncapped Priyank Panchal has replaced Rohit for three matches against the Proteas, the first of which starts at SuperSport Park on December 26.

Panchal made 96, 24 and nought in his three innings for India A against South Africa's second string in Bloemfontein last month.

Rohit was rested for the recent Test series win over New Zealand along with KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

Rahul, Pant, Bumrah and Shami are set to face South Africa, but Rohit joins Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shubman Gill and Rahul Chahar on the injury list.

Rohit, who was named India's permanent T20 International and ODI skipper last week, missed two of the four Tests in a famous series win in Australia this year.

 

 

Rohit Sharma has replaced Virat Kohli as India's ODI skipper and has also taken over from Ajinkya Rahane as Test vice-captain.

Opening batter Sharma was installed as Twenty20 International captain for the recent series win over New Zealand following Kohli's decision to step down at the conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

Rohit has now landed the role on a permanent basis and will also lead his country in the 50-over format.

The 34-year-old will also serve as Kohli's deputy in the longest format rather than Rahane, who has retained his place in the squad for the upcoming three-match Test series in South Africa.

Rohit, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.return to the squad to face the Proteas after being rested for the 1-0 series win over New Zealand.

Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shubman Gill and Rahul Chahar miss out due to injuries.

The first Test begins at Supersport Park on December 26.

 

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Mohammed Shami., Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj.

Standby Players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.

India sealed a T20I series 3-0 clean sweep over New Zealand as Rohit Sharma and Axar Patel guided the home side to a 73-run victory in Kolkata.

The hosts had already dominated against visitors who were beaten by Australia in the T20 World Cup final just a week ago, cruising to consecutive victories to guarantee a series triumph before Sunday's final game.

India opted to bat first at Eden Gardens and raced to 69-0 at the end of the powerplay – their highest score in the first six overs of the series - before Ishan Kishan (29) fell two balls later.

New captain Rohit carried on imperiously, blasting three sixes in his 31-ball 56 to not only become just the second batter to hit 150 maximums in T20I cricket but also to place him top, above Virat Kohli (29), for the most 50-plus scores in the format.

The hosts eventually concluded on 184-7 from their 20-over allocation after Deepak Chahar clubbed 21 from eight deliveries as India collected 50 runs from the final five overs.

New Zealand's response began brightly with 16 taken off Chahar in the second over, but Axar (3-9) removed Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman and Glenn Phillips cheaply to leave the visitors 37-3 after their first six.

Martin Guptill (51) offered the only serious resistance for the tourists, who capitulated to 111 all out to hand India their eighth consecutive match win in T20I bilateral series against New Zealand.


Santer shines as Kiwi bowlers falter

Mitchell Santer (3-27) was the only New Zealand bowler to go for an economy under seven.

While picking up the key wickets of Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant, the left-armer bowled tightly after the powerplay and, with more support, could have limited India to a lower total.

Almost perfect from Axar

Tasked with operating in the powerplay, Axar struck with his first delivery in the match and that set the tone for the rest of the game.

As well as picking up a trio of wickets in quick succession, the off-spinner produced 13 dot balls to concede just nine runs from his three overs.

India captain Rohit Sharma played a central role as his team clinched a T20I series win over World Cup finalists New Zealand with a clinical seven-wicket victory in Ranchi.

After making a valuable 48 when India won the first game in the three-match series by five wickets on Wednesday, Rohit – who took over from Virat Kohli as T20 captain for this series and seems set to be handed the role on a full-time basis – added a rapid 55 on this occasion as he and KL Rahul produced a century opening partnership.

Chasing New Zealand's 153-6, Rahul plundered 65 from 49 balls and Rohit's runs came from just 36 deliveries, before India withstood a slight stumble to get over the line with 16 balls to spare.

Rishabh Pant finished it off with two sixes at the start of the 18th over, with India getting the job done emphatically at JSCA International Stadium Complex.

New Zealand captain Tim Southee's inspired bowling had accounted for both openers and Suryakumar Yadav, but by that point India were almost home and hosed. Pant and Venkatesh Iyer both finished on 12 not out.

The visitors paid the price for being unable to build on a strong platform of their own, having been 79-1 in the ninth over. Martin Guptill thrashed 31 from 15 balls, perishing to a top edge off Deepak Chahar after striking the same bowler for six from the previous delivery.

Harshal Patel had a strong debut for India and his 2-25 included the wicket of middle-order dangerman Glenn Phillips, who hit three sixes, taking his total to 97 in T20 matches at all levels in 2021, making 34 in 21 balls.

The three-match series concludes in Kolkata on Sunday, with India eyeing a clean sweep.

Rohit and Rahul take game away from Kiwis

Trent Boult dropped Rohit on 29 after he sliced into the on side. A wicket at that point, in the 10th over, might have made a difference, but India's opening pair went on to put on 117 and such a foundation meant the outcome became a foregone conclusion. It means the India openers have equalled the most century partnerships in T20I matches, joining Pakistan's Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan on five.

Super Southee efforts in vain

Southee's salvo came too late to majorly affect the outcome, but his bowling was terrific and figures of 3-16 from four overs matched his fifth-best T20I performance, in what was his 92nd appearance in the short format for the Black Caps.

Rohit Sharma led by example as India started a new era with a five-wicket win over New Zealand in Jaipur on Wednesday.

Three days after losing to Australia by eight wickets in the T20 World Cup final, the Black Caps went down in the first match of the three-game series.

With captain Kane Williamson missing the T20 series to prepare for the Tests, Tim Southee stepped up to lead New Zealand, though it was his counterpart Rohit – taking charge of India in the shortest format for this series after Virat Kohli stepped down – who came out on top.

It went down to the wire, with Martin Guptill (70 from 42 balls) and Mark Chapman (63 off 50), who hit his first T20 half-century for the Black Caps, leading New Zealand to 164-6, with Ravichandran Ashwin taking 2-23 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-24.

Rohit's brilliant 48 and an outstanding 62 off 40 balls from Suryakumar Yadav put India into a strong position in the chase, and with five overs remaining the result looked to be sewn up.

Yet Suryakumar's dismissal at the hands of Trent Boult saw some nerves set in for India, with Shreyas Iyer (five) and debutant Venkatesh Iyer (four) falling in a cagey finish.

Ultimately, Rohit and new coach Rahul Dravid got the win they craved with just two balls to spare when Rishabh Pant (17 not out) sliced a shot over mid-off and to the boundary.

 

Rohit up and running

Replacing Kohli as skipper is not an easy task, but Rohit showed his usual proficiency with the bat as he knocked off 48 from 36 deliveries, including five boundaries and two sixes.

What might have been for Boult

Boult had figures of 2-31, with 21 of those runs coming from his second over. To further compound his frustration, the paceman dropped Suryakumar on 61, not only failing to take what should have been a relatively simple catch, but also seeing the ball go to the boundary to boot.

He did at least end Suryakumar's stint at the crease in the next over, though those runs proved costly.

New Zealand have had little to time to dwell on their T20 World Cup final heartbreak as they prepare to face India in Jaipur on Wednesday.

The Black Caps missed out being crowned world champions in the shortest format for the first time when they suffered an eight-wicket defeat to Australia at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

A 15-man T20 squad arrived in Jaipur less than 24 hours after that loss and they will look to take their frustration out on India in a three-match series.

Tim Southee will captain New Zealand, with Kane Williamson missing the T20s as he prioritises preparing for a two-Test series that starts on November 25.

It is the beginning of a new era for India after Rahul Dravid replaced Ravi Shastri as head coach and Virat Kohli's reign as T20 captain came to an end.

Rohit Sharma leads India for this series as they look to put the disappointment of missing out on reaching the T20 World Cup semi-finals behind them, starting with a first men’s T20I at Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

Kohli misses the series along with Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami. Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan are among the players to come into the squad.

New Zealand hammered India by eight wickets in the World Cup, with the Black Caps having lost the previous five T20 matches between the two nations.

 

 

Black Caps set to rotate, Ferguson on the mend

Southee said such an intense schedule and spending so long in bio-secure bubbles has taken a toll on some Black Caps players, revealing how it "weighs you down".

The stand-in skipper suggested the tourists would make full use of their squad and paceman Lockie Ferguson is set to make a welcome return from a calf strain.

He said on Tuesday: "It's [squad rotation] something we have to look at throughout this series of three games in five days, with travel days in between and then a couple of days and then go into a Test series.

"The guys have to be managed throughout the series and we've got a squad of 15 here that were involved in the T20 World Cup which I'm sure we'll use throughout the T20 series."

 

Rohit wants 'fearless' approach

Rohit has never been afraid to take an aggressive approach and the skipper wants the side to take more risks with the bat at the start of a new era, with another T20 World Cup to come next year.

He said: "It's important, especially in this format, that sometimes you just need to go out there and play fearlessly and while doing that, there are chances that you might not always be successful, because it's a short format and you're always challenged.

"The pressure is always there. We certainly will keep an eye on that aspect; that's where the entire set-up will play a big part that wherever that individual bats, and how we want him to bat, goes and does the job for us. If he doesn't then we instil confidence in him that we have full faith in you, just go and do the role for the team. As long as they're trying to do the role for the team, we are happy."

Rohit has scored 352 T20I runs against New Zealand, more than any other India batsman. He made 174 runs in five World Cup knocks at an average of 34.80.

Rohit Sharma has been named captain for India's upcoming T20I series against New Zealand.

The three-match home series, which begins on November 17, will be the first since Virat Kohli's decision to step down after the T20 World Cup.

Kohli, who will stay on as ODI and Test captain, led India in the short format for the final time on Monday, as the pre-tournament favourites bowed out of the World Cup with victory over Namibia.

The 33-year-old captained his nation in 50 T20Is – winning 30 and losing 16 – while scoring 1,570 runs, including 114 boundaries and 59 sixes.

 

Kohli is one of several notable absentees from the squad to face the Black Caps next week along with Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami.

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan are among the players to come into the squad.

Rohit will take over as skipper – with KL Rahul as his deputy – although it is yet to be confirmed whether he will be given the role on a permanent basis.

Following his knock of 56 against Namibia, Rohit became one of only three players – along with Kohli – to reach 3,000 T20I runs, while he has averaged 32.66 in 108 innings.

 

India T20I squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj.

Virat Kohli insists he still has full motivation to continue playing for India in the T20 format, after his tenure as captaincy came to an end. 

India beat Namibia by nine wickets on Monday, in what was Kohli's last match as skipper in the shortest format of the game.

Their hopes of reaching the T20 World Cup semi-finals had already been ended on Sunday, when New Zealand beat Afghanistan to secure the last available place in the next round.

Kohli, who turned 33 last week, announced before the tournament that he would be stepping down from leading India in T20Is, though he will stay on as ODI and Test captain. 

While still eager to play a vital role for the team in T20Is, Kohli believes he has made the right decision for his career.

"Relief, firstly! It's been an honour, but things have to be kept in the right perspective and I thought that this was the right time for me to manage my workload," Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"Six, seven years of intense cricket, every time you take the field, it takes a lot out of you. It's been amazing, so much fun, a great bunch of guys who played together for so long, we really performed well as a team.

"I know we haven't gone further in this tournament but we have played some really good cricket as a team. It's something we've all enjoyed, so many years playing together, it's absolutely made my job much easier.

"The way we played the last three games, it's a game of margins in T20 cricket. We were not brave enough in the first two games, we suffered because of that and we knew that it was going to be complicated for us to go through."

Asked if he would still retain the same hunger as he has shown as captain, Kohli replied: "For me if I can't do that, I will not play this game anymore.

"That's been my goal from day one, even when I wasn't captain, I was always keen to learn, keen to know where the game is going.

"I'm always going to be around with my point of view and anything I can do for the team, I'm not a guy who's just going to stand around and do nothing, I'll always want to give 120 per cent on the field.

With India chasing a target of 133, Kohli chose not to come out and bat after Rohit Sharma - who surpassed 3,000 runs in T20Is - was dismissed for 56, instead sending out Suryakumar Yadav, whose 25 off 19 deliveries paved the way for the excellent KL Rahul (54) to seal victory.

"Surya didn't get too much game time in this World Cup, it's a T20 World Cup at the end of the day, I thought it would be a nice memory for him to take back as well," Kohli explained.

 

Kohli's T20 tenure in numbers

Kohli has been captain of India in all formats since 2017, having taken over the limited-overs responsibilities from the great MS Dhoni.

In total, he won 30 of his 50 T20Is as skipper (60 per cent), suffering 16 defeats, while two games were tied and two matches did not finish.

India's highest score of 240-3 during his spell as captain came against the West Indies at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in December 2019, while a low point for Kohli's team came earlier in this World Cup, when they were limited to 110-7 by New Zealand.

Pakistan, led by the supreme Babar Azam, thrashed India by 10 wickets in the Super 12s opener, and they are the only nation Kohli failed to beat in the format while captain.

Indeed, Kohli is the only Indian captain to lose a World Cup game in any format against Pakistan.

Kohli's won seven games against England, out of 11 meetings, while he also managed an impressive four wins against Australia. 

Across his 11 innings against Eoin Morgan's side, he scored 393 runs. Incredibly, he has not yet managed to score a century in the format, with his 94 not out against West Indies in 2019 his highest tally.

As T20 captain, Kohli has scored 1,570 runs from 46 innings, averaging 47.6 at a strike rate of 141. He surpassed 50 on 13 occasions, striking 114 boundaries and 59 sixes.

Virat Kohli's tenure as India captain in the shortest format came to an end with a nine-wicket victory over Namibia as his team bowed out of the T20 World Cup.

India's slim hopes of securing a semi-final place were dashed on Sunday when New Zealand beat Afghanistan, meaning Monday's match in Dubai, the final game of the Super 12s stage, was Kohli's last as T20 skipper.

Kohli, who turned 33 last week, is stepping down from leading India in T20Is, though he will stay on as ODI and Test captain. Coach Ravi Shastri is also leaving his role.

Having won the toss and elected to field first, Kohli decided not to come out ahead of Suryakumar Yadav after Rohit Sharma was caught behind on 56, with the opener having surpassed 3,000 runs in T20Is as India chased down a target of 133.

It was a decent effort from tournament debutants Namibia, who batted for their 20 allotted overs and lost eight wickets, with Stephan Baard (21) and David Wiese (26) the pick of their batsmen.

Ravindra Jadeja (3-16) led India's bowling attack – Ravichandran Ashwin (3-20) and Jasprit Bumrah (2-19) providing support – though Mohammed Shami (0-39) was unusually vulnerable.

KL Rahul (54) and Rohit swiftly set about knocking into Namibia's total, however, with the latter joining Kohli as just one of three players to reach 3,000 T20I runs when he moved onto 18.

Rohit's dismissal might have meant Kohli got in for a final flourish with the bat as skipper, but it was Suryakumar who instead came to the crease, scoring 25 off 19 balls before the excellent Rahul sealed victory with a wonderful shot down the ground.

 

Fifty and out for Kohli, a new era for India

"It's been an honour for me. I was given the opportunity and I've tried to do my best. It's time for me to try and create some space and prioritise things and move forward," said Kohli at the toss.

Monday's match was his 50th T20I as captain. India have won 30 of those and lost 16. The highest total India scored under his leadership was 240-3 against the West Indies in 2019, while ahead of the Namibia game, they had averaged 164 runs across 47 innings.

History for Rohit

It had been coming, but Rohit finally joined the exclusive 3,000-run club in T20Is. Across 108 innings, he has averaged 32.66, struck four centuries and 24 half-centuries.

Rohit has been mooted as Kohli's potential successor as captain. There cannot be too many better candidates.

India kept their hopes of progressing to the T20 World Cup semi-finals alive with an eight-wicket win over Scotland in Dubai.

Virat Kohli turned 33 on Friday, and his team handed the captain a birthday gift with a brilliant display against the minnows.

With New Zealand having beaten Namibia to move onto six points in Group 2, India needed a big win to maintain their slim semi-final hopes.

Kohli won the toss and chose to field, and though George Munsey – who hit a six off the first over – started brightly, his knock of 24 from 19 deliveries was the highest score any Scotland batsman managed.

Scotland were skittled out for just 85, Mohammed Shami finishing with figures of 3-15, identical to those of Ravindra Jadeja, while Jasprit Bumrah took 2-10. Shami began the 17th over with wickets from the first three balls, including a run out.

The bowling performance paved the way for a swift India success, led by the magnificent KL Rahul, who hit 50 from 19 balls before looping a shot down the ground to Calum MacLeod from Mark Watt's enticing delivery.

Rahul's fellow opener Rohit Sharma – aiming to become just the third player to reach 3,000 T20I runs – reached 30 before succumbing lbw to Brad Wheal.

Kohli ticked over two singles before a huge six from Suryakumar Yadav sealed India's success after just 6.3 overs.

Rahul and Rohit sparkle

India's openers raced to the fastest team 50 in the tournament, taking just 23 balls to reach that mark.

Rohit is now just 18 runs short of joining team-mate Kohli and New Zealand's Martin Guptill in the 3,000-runs club, though he may well only have one more shot at that this tournament. His partner Rahul dazzled, hitting three sixes and a further six boundaries in a sensational show of quality.

India need a New Zealand slip-up

There is real jeopardy in Group 2, and a big team will miss out on going any further. Pakistan top the standings with eight points from their four games, so are assured of their place in the semi-finals.

India, who round off their Super 12 campaign against Namibia, are now on four points, two behind New Zealand, but they have a much better run rate of 1.62 compared to 1.28 for the Black Caps, who face Afghanistan (another side on fourth points) in their last game. It is all to play for.

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul made rapid half-centuries as India belatedly got their T20 World Cup campaign up and running with a 66-run defeat of Afghanistan.

Back-to-back hammerings at the hands of fierce rivals Pakistan and New Zealand left India's hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals hanging by a thread.

The pre-tournament favourites needed an emphatic win over Afghanistan to keep themselves in contention, and they finally delivered on a good wicket at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

Rohit, back at the top of the order after dropping down to number three against the Black Caps, smashed 74 from 47 balls, and Rahul made a brilliant 69 off 48 as India racked up 210-2 – the biggest total of the tournament.

Rohit and Rahul combined for India's record opening T20 World Cup stand of 140 and the seventh-highest by any side in the history of the tournament, laying the platform for a huge victory in Abu Dhabi.

Hardik Pandya (35 not out) and Rishabh Pant (27no) added insult to injury after Rohit and Rahul fell to Karim Janat and Gulbadin Naib respectively.

Afghanistan, playing their first game since Asghar Afghan retired, fell well short on 144-7 in reply, Ravichandran Ashwin taking 2-14 in his hugely impressive long-awaited T20I return and Mohammed Shami claiming 3-32.

Janat made a quickfire unbeaten 42 and Mohammad Nabi (35) also held India up, but second-placed Afghanistan's semi-finals bid suffered a big setback.

Rahul Dravid was confirmed as India's next head coach while the team went about cruising to a victory that boosted their net run-rate to +0.073, but New Zealand are favourites to qualify from Group 2 alongside Pakistan.

Rohit and Rahul cut loose

India's batsmen had failed to fire in heavy losses to Pakistan and New Zealand, but Rohit and Rahul showed what they are capable of as they resumed their partnership with Ishan Kishan dropping out.

Rohit struck three sixes and found the rope eight times, while Rahul hit two maximums and another six boundaries as he scored a first T20I half-century since last December following eight knocks without one.

Ashwin back in business

All-rounder Ashwin was selected for his first T20I since way back in July 2017, and he made his mark with the ball.

The spinner trapped Gulbadin in his second over and bowled Najibullah Zadran with a delivery that drifted in. Ashwin did not concede a boundary and bowled 12 dot balls in his four overs.

Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan both scored half-centuries as Pakistan recorded their first ever T20 World Cup win over India with a 10-wicket triumph.

India had lost just one of their last eight T20I meetings with Pakistan while they had collected five successive T20 World Cup wins – the joint longest streak in the competition.

But Shaheen Afridi (3-31) gave his country early hope as he struck twice to remove both Rohit Sharma for a first-ball duck and KL Rahul (three), with Hasan Ali (2-44) dismissing Suryakumar Yadav (11) to leave India 36-3 at the end of the powerplay.

However, captain Virat Kohli (57) – who has scored the most runs in men's T20I history (3,216) - responded emphatically as he registered his 29th half-century in the format to lift his side to 151-7 at the end of their 20-over allocation.

Kohli's side had lost all eight T20Is in which they posted a first-innings total under 160 since 2018 and that trend looked set to continue as Azam (68 not out) and Rizwan (79 not out) enjoyed a century opening stand inside 13 overs.

The openers motored on as they managed the highest opening partnership ever against India, Azam taking 40 balls to reach his half-century and Rizwan taking one delivery more before the former sealed victory with 13 balls to spare in their first Super 12 Group 2 game.

India's openers struggle

Rohit, who has hit the second-most sixes in the history of the competition (133), offered India experience at the top of the order but his tournament got off to the worst start as he was removed lbw for a golden duck.

His opening partner, Rahul, did not last much longer as the Punjab Kings captain disappointed following warm-up scores of 51 and 39 after his blistering 98 not out in his final IPL 2021 game.

Magical Azam continues remarkable form

In the last three years, no one has scored more T20I runs than Azam's 1,241. Kohli is second on the list, with 1,050.

The Pakistan leader produced a captain's knock to see his side over the line in a famous victory, perfectly kick-starting their World Cup campaign as he smashed six fours and two maximums for his 68.

After a COVID-19 enforced postponement, the T20 World Cup will finally get underway on Sunday.

Initially scheduled to take place in Australia last year, and then India following the postponement, the competition will now take place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

A first round featuring eight teams, including debutants Namibia and Papua New Guinea as well as 2014 champions Sri Lanka (who have reached three T20 World Cup finals, more than any other side), gets the tournament up and running, with four teams progressing into the Super 12 stage.

The West Indies are aiming to defend their title, having edged out England in the 2016 edition. Eoin Morgan's team, who have the world's top T20 batsman in their ranks, are sure to be one of the main challengers for the Windies' crown.

Virat Kohli's India are among the favourites, while Pakistan will be hoping captain Babar Azam delivers. Australia and New Zealand (the most economic side when it came to bowling in 2016) cannot be discounted either, with South Africa also improving in recent years.

It promises to be a thrilling tournament and, with the help of Opta, Stats Perform looks at some of the key data points heading into the tournament.

 

Gayle on the record trail

The Windies have won two of the last three T20 World Cups, triumphing in 2016 and 2012 either side of Sri Lanka's success, and they remain the only team to have won the tournament on multiple occasions. Key to their sustained success has been Chris Gayle, who at 42, is still the face of the sport in the Caribbean.

He is just 80 runs away from becoming the second player to score 1,000 runs at the T20 World Cup. In fact, he needs only 97 runs to surpass Mahela Jayawardene's record tally of 1,016. Gayle already holds one competition record, for the number of sixes (60), while he averages 40 across 26 innings at the tournament, with a brilliant strike rate of 146.7.

New Zealand great Brendon McCullum (123) is the only player to have a higher T20 World Cup score than Gayle's 117, and you would not bet against the Windies talisman claiming that record either.

Gayle will have able support from the likes of Kieron Pollard (1,378 T20 runs), Dwayne Bravo (1,229) and Lendl Simmons (1,508), not to mention Nicholas Pooran.

Despite batting in the middle order, Pooran hit the second-highest number of sixes in this year's Caribbean Premier League (25). He also has form in the middle east, having struck 350 runs at a rate of 170 in the most recent edition of the Indian Premier League.

 

Malan and Livingstone to lead England

The Windies' first opponents in the Super 12 phase will be England, who will be out for revenge. They had a batting strike rate of 148 in 2016, the best of any team, but still fell short. Yet while the West Indies are now ninth in the ICC's T20I rankings, Morgan's men sit top of the pile.

Dawid Malan is the star batsman. He is ranked number one in the world in T20Is, with a rating of 841, way clear of second-placed Babar (819). Over 30 innings, he has amassed 1,123 runs at an average of 43.2 and a strike rate of 139.3.

Morgan, not shy of a big innings himself, is also able to call on Liam Livingstone, who has made a fantastic start to his T20I career. 

From seven innings, Livingstone has hit 206 runs with a strike rate of 167.5. His high score of 103 is the joint-highest in England's squad, level with Malan (103 not out).

As was the case at the 2019 World Cup, England's batting depth is exceptional, though they are shorn of Ben Stokes, who always seems to deliver when it matters most.

 

Kohli's last shot

Not too far behind Malan in the ICC's T20I batsman rankings is India star Kohli, who is stepping down as the captain in the shortest format of the game following the World Cup.

Winners of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, India have only reached one other final, back in 2014. Kohli was named player of the tournament, top-scoring with 319 runs, and as he prepares to bow out as captain, he will be determined to cap off his tenure on a high.

No player has made more half-centuries in the competition than the 32-year-old (level with Gayle on nine), though Kohli is yet to log a century.

Kohli's hopes may well rest on the shoulders of Rohit Sharma. The opener debuted with an unbeaten half-century back in 2007 and has made 111 T20I appearances, behind only Shoaib Malik (116) and Mohammed Hafeez (113).

Only Martin Guptill (147) has struck more sixes than Sharma (133) in the format, while over the last five years, India have won every time the batsman has scored 50+ runs.

 

Captain fantastic

Shahid Afridi has taken the most wickets of any player in T20 World Cup history (39). Indeed, Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan has taken the most wickets at the tournament of any player set to participate in this edition (30), which shows the void Pakistan are having to fill following Afridi's retirement.

They do, however, possess a supreme batsman in the form of captain Babar. 

Since his T20I bow in 2016, Babar has tallied up 2,204 runs. His average of 46.9 puts him third on the all-time T20I list (20+ innings), behind Kohli (52.7) and his fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (48.4), who provides another string to Pakistan's bow.

Babar, who has only managed one century to date (122 from 59 balls against South Africa earlier this year) was the fastest player to 2,000 T20I runs (52 innings) beating Kohli's previous best of 56, and an enticing encounter between the sub-continental rivals takes place on October 24.

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