Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli? Ricky Ponting picks ideal captain to lead India in World Cup

India are yet to lose a match in the World Cup 2023, having won each of their opening three games

Sakshi Gupta
Wednesday 18 October 2023 12:52 BST
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting (Mike Egerton/PA)
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has backed “laid-back” Rohit Sharma over Virat Kohli to be the ideal captain to lead India in the high-pressure ICC Cricket World Cup.

Ponting, who captained Australia to 50-over World Cup titles in 2003 and 2007, credited Sharma for his captaincy skills when his team was dealing with the pressure of playing in front of passionate fans at home.

When the World Cup 2023 was just around the corner, India were considered one of the favourites to win the coveted trophy. But many regarded that one of the biggest challenges for the Men in Blue would be handling the pressure of being the tournament’s hosts and meet the expectations of 1.3 billion people.

Sharma, however, has led India to a fine start to the World Cup 2023, with the hosts being one of the two teams unbeaten in the campaign after 15 matches. New Zealand is the other team. Team India defeated Australia by six wickets in their World Cup opener, before registering fantastic eight and seven-wicket victories over Afghanistan and Pakistan to climb to the top of the points table.

“He’s very laid back, Rohit. Very laid back with everything he does. You can even see that by the way that he plays. He’s a pretty laconic sort of batsman as well, and that’s the way he is both on and off the field,” Ponting told the ICC on Tuesday.

Sharma, who took over India’s limited-overs captaincy from Kohli in December 2021, is now allowing the latter to focus solely on his batting, according to Ponting.

“Someone like Virat, who is a bit more heart-on-the-sleeve, and probably listens to the fans and plays up with the fans a little bit more, someone with his personality would probably find it a bit harder,” added Ponting.

“But I think Rohit will be fine with it. He’s a terrific bloke and has been a great player for a long time, and he’s done a great job as leader of India.”

India’s last World Cup triumph came in 2011 when they co-hosted the tournament with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. With the mega tournament back in India, the pressure of living up to the expectations of the home fans is going to be inevitable, and Ponting believes Sharma is the best man to deal with it.

“We can’t sit back and say that the pressure won’t get to them (India) at some stage, or it won’t affect them, because it will, just with the enormity of the tournament. But he’ll (Rohit) take it and cope with it as well as probably anyone,” said Ponting.

India’s next match in the World Cup 2023 is against Bangladesh on Thursday in Pune.

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