Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has opined that if Indian cricket undergoes a transitional period, it will be Hardik Pandya’s responsibility to phase out Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma with grace and respect. Akhtar drew parallels with how Dhoni handled Sachin Tendulkar’s transition and how Kohli treated Dhoni after assuming captaincy.
“I might be putting pressure on Hardik Pandya, but he needs to show respect to Rohit and Kohli. He is part of the team because of them, and he should reciprocate the support they have given him. They are Indian cricket legends, and they deserve due respect before they are phased out,” Shoaib Akhtar stated to Zee News.
Akhtar emphasized the importance of respecting the predecessors, as has been the tradition in Indian cricket. Rohit and Kohli have not played a T20I since India’s 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final loss to England, with Hardik Pandya leading the team in the shortest format.
The ODI World Cup’s heartbreaking loss in the final against Australia could signal the start of a transition period for the Indian team. The next 50-over World Cup will be in 2027, when Rohit and Kohli will be 40 and 39, respectively, raising concerns about their participation.
“Dhoni respected Sachin Tendulkar when he came in. Virat respected Dhoni when he took over. Rohit also gave Virat respect when he replaced him. So, it’s now up to Hardik Pandya to decide how he wants to send these two great players off. It’s his call now to put his foot down and bid them farewell respectfully. They deserve this respect,” Shoaib Akhtar added.
Currently recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the World Cup 2023 match against Bangladesh, Hardik Pandya is unavailable. As a result, India’s designated T20I vice-captain, Suryakumar Yadav, is leading the team in the ongoing five-match T20I series against Australia at home. Suryakumar is also likely to lead in the South Africa T20Is, starting December 10 in Durban, as Hardik’s recovery is uncertain.