• Thursday, July 25, 2024

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After Kohli, India captain Rohit Sharma bows out of T20 internationals: ‘I never thought that…’

The 37-year-old swashbuckling batter, however, added that he would continue playing the Indian Premier League.

India captain Rohit Sharma turns emotional after winning the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup 2024 after his team defeated South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, on June 29, 2024. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

ROHIT SHARMA had never thought about retiring from T20 Internationals but like Virat Kohli, the charismatic Indian skipper had to make way for the younger generation and he said there was “nothing better” than saying goodbye with an elusive World Cup trophy.

Speaking to select media after a thrilling seven-run win in the T20 World Cup final against South Africa, Sharma said he could not have picked a better time to leave the T20 format. However, he was quick to add that he would continue playing the Indian Premier League.

“I don’t make decisions like this about my future. Whatever I feel is right from inside I try to do that. I don’t think much about the future or whether I would play this World Cup after the ODI World Cup last year,” the 37-year-old swashbuckler, who is the highest scorer in the format with 4,231 runs at an average of 32.05 and strike rate of nearly 141, said.

Read: Virat Kohli retires from T20 internationals after India win World Cup 2024

He also has joint most number of hundreds in T20 internationals — five — with Australia’s Glenn Maxwell.

“I never thought that I would retire from T20s. But the situation is such, I thought it is the perfect situation for me. Nothing better than winning the cup and saying goodbye,” added Sharma when asked if would have retired from T20s earlier if India won the one-day international (ODI) World Cup at home seven months ago.

India could not cross the finishing line in the ODI showpiece despite being the most balanced team in the tournament. They also had to endure a loss to Australia at the World Test Championship final last June.

Read: India beat South Africa in seesaw final to lift T20 World Cup

Using a popular Hindi film line, Sharma said the triumph here was written in the stars.

“Jo likha hain who hone wala hain, ye likha tha but humko pata nahi hain kee kab likha hain. Nahi toh hum aaram se aate and bolte ‘likha hain’ aur ho jayega ,” he quipped.

“Everything has to fall in place. As you saw, we were way behind the game. At one point, it seemed like they would win easily,” he said referring to South Africa gaining the upper hand courtesy Heinrich Klaasen’s blazing 52 off 27 balls.

Life has come full circle for Rohit, who was part of the 2007 T20 World Cup win under Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy.

Talking about his T20 journey since then, he said, “I was told that I started in 2007, won the World Cup and I am leaving the game after winning the World Cup. So that’s a tailor-made situation for me. A proper full circle. So I’m very happy with this.”

“I was 20 years old at that time. I tell my players to try perform their role. I had a role at that time. I used to bat at 5 or 6 number. So, it was very important to finish well for us.

“I understand the game much better now, having played for so many years. So, it’s been brilliant,” he said adding that it is a big challenge to play and captain in all three formats.

Considering the circumstances and India’s long wait for a title, the win on Saturday was one of the greatest of his career.

“This has to be the greatest time I can say that. It’s only because how desperately I wanted to win this. So, all the runs, all the runs that I’ve scored in all these years, I think it does matter, but I’m not big on stats and all of that.

“Winning games for India, winning trophies for India, that is what I look forward to all the time. And having this now right beside me probably has to be, I don’t know, honestly, I don’t know if it’s the greatest or what but it is definitely one of the greatest,” said Rohit.

He went down on his knees after the victory was sealed. On that emotional moment, Sharma said he was desperate for the trophy.

“…it was very emotional. I wanted this badly. So, it’s very hard to put it in words because that moment, I don’t want to say what I was thinking and what was going in my mind, but it was a very emotional moment personally for me.

“And I’m going to, I wish I could capture that moment myself but not really, you can’t do that but I will always remember that,” he said.

He also acknowledged the massive contribution of batting mainstay Virat Kohli, who cae good in the final with a crucial 76 after a lean tournament overall, and outgoing coach Rahul Dravid.

“More than any one of us, Rahul bhai deserved that trophy. What he has done for Indian cricket for the past 20-25 years, I think this was the only thing that was left in his cabinet. I am very happy from all of us on behalf of the entire team that we could actually do this for him,” he said.

“Look, Virat has been a champion player without a doubt. And we all know what he has done for us. At some point everyone has to say goodbye to the game and Virat was very clear that this is what he wanted to do and he was very clear before the start of the tournament as well.

“I am very happy for him that he batted like he did in the finals,” added Sharma.

(With PTI inputs)

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