Earlier, scoring a century in the World Cup was considered a huge achievement. Its importance is still the same but nowadays, only one three-figure score is not enough for the batsman to go into the record books. In 2015, Kumar Sangakkara smashed four consecutive tons in a row and this year, Rohit Sharma broke it sensationally with his jaw-dropping form.
The Indian opener started slammed 648 runs in only nine innings with as many as five centuries and ended the tournament as the highest run-getter. It also led Virat Kohli and a few other experts to believe that he is perhaps the best ODI batsman in the world currently.
But by the time the next World Cup arrives, Rohit Sharma will be 36 years old and frankly, won’t be hitting the ball as sweetly as he is doing now. Team India will have to start finding his replacement now itself and plan accordingly with a lot of time left.
Here we bring you five cricketers who can replace Rohit Sharma at 2023 WC:
1. KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo Source: Twitter)
If there is any player who can match Rohit shot for shot, and has a lazy elegance like him, it is KL Rahul. Rahul today, is exactly like Rohit was before 2013 when he started opening the innings. Rohit’s biggest turning points in his career was becoming an opener and today he is the vice-captain of the Indian team. Who knows what Rahul’s turning point would be? But surely, batting alongside players like Rohit and Virat would certainly make him a matured and a dependable opener.
His ability with the bat has never been in question and it’s just a matter of time before he gets his act together and starts performing to the level of his abilities. Given his exploits in the IPL, Rahul is perhaps the best option to replace Rohit in 4 years time.
At the moment, he is still unsure about his place in the team and the management needs to give him a long rope and assure him of getting a certain number of matches irrespective of his performance. KL Rahul will be a much-improved player by then as well and if backed, will lead the batting unit of the team.
2. Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw of India A. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)
It is a great honour for any player to be compared to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, but to the same to happen at such a young age is something to be mighty proud of for India’s U19 World cup-winning captain Prithvi Shaw. He shot to fame after scoring an unprecedented 546 in a U14 game in Mumbai and hasn’t looked back since then. He again hit the headlines when he led India to the U19 World Cup in 2018 and was one of the leading run-scorers of the tournament.
In his early days as a cricketer, Prithvi Shaw was handled very well by Rahul Dravid and then Ricky Ponting coached him in the IPL which has led to him becoming a matured cricketer already. Shaw is surely going to open the batting for India very soon. An opening batsman from Mumbai, well he isn’t the first one and surely not the last.
He likes to attack from the word go irrespective of the format and once set, has the capability of playing a long innings like Rohit. Prithvi Shaw scored a century on his Test debut itself and will soon get his chance in the limited-overs team as well.
3. Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill. (Photo Source: Twitter)
No U19 batsman has ever got the kind of attention and hype that Shubman Gill has garnered, not even Virat Kohli. Ever since he played in the 2018 U19 World Cup, experts across the world believe that he is going to be another batting superstar for India.
Gill finished as the highest run-scorer at the U19 World Cup and was immediately picked by KKR for IPL 2018. Even though he hasn’t had a long run with the franchise at the top of the order, in the few opportunities he got he managed to impress everyone with his stroke-making abilities.
He is perhaps the most sought after young batsman in India and though he made his India debut in New Zealand earlier this year, Gill is yet to nail down his position. ‘Talent’ was the word associated with Rohit Sharma during his early days and that is the adjective most experts use for Gill. He could surely be an apt replacement for Rohit at the 2023 WC.
4. Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)
If someone’s idol is Virender Sehwag, one thing is guaranteed that the player would be aggressive and would have ‘see ball, hit ball’ written on his bedroom wall. Mayank Agarwal is definitely one of those who likes to live by the sword and perish by the sword.
He broke all kinds of records in the 2017-18 Ranji season, plundering over 1000 runs. An injury to Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul’s poor form meant Agarwal made his Test debut against Australia at the mighty MCG and impressed everyone. He scored a gutsy 77 on a tough pitch against perhaps the best bowling line up in the world in their home conditions.
He was called up as a replacement for Vijay Shankar in the 2019 World Cup but didn’t get a game because of Rohit Sharma and Rahul’s tremendous from. He is definitely someone India would be looking closely at for the opening slot and given his batting style, it shouldn’t be a tough decision to rope him in the side as soon as possible.
5. Ishan Kishan
Ishan Kishan. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)
A young wicket-keeper batsman from Jharkhand who plays attacking cricket, Déjà vu?, Ishan Kishan shot to fame when he was chosen to lead India at the 2016 U19 World Cup in Dhaka. He started as a prodigy, but since prodigies aren’t very uncommon in India, Kishan hasn’t been able to find a place in the Indian team.
He has shown glimpses of his talent in the IPL, especially when he hit 4 successive sixes off Kuldeep Yadav scoring 62 off mere 21 balls against KKR. He has been used as a floater playing for Mumbai Indians but has expressed his wish to bat at the top of the order and should get his chance sooner rather than later.
Ishan Kishan, if groomed properly, can replace Rohit Sharma at the top of the order in the blue jersey and get the team off to some good starts in the next World Cup.
~Written by Parth Parekh
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