End of an era as India faces T20 future without Kohli, Rohit

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Indian greats Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have announced they have played their last 20 internationals following India’s thrilling seven-run victory over South Africa in the T20 World Cup final in Barbados on Saturday.
Star batsman Kohli ended a run of low scores and hit 76 as he was named man of the match, with the 35-year-old saying afterwards: “This was my last T20 World Cup and this is what we wanted to achieve. .
“One day you feel like you can’t run, then things happen. God is great and I got the job done for the team on the day it mattered.
“It was now or never (it was my) last T20 for India, I wanted to make the most of it. I wanted to respect the situation rather than force it.”
Pressed on whether he had played his last international T20 tournament, Kohli added at the launch: “It was an open secret, it’s time for the next generation to take over, some amazing players will take the team forward and keep the flag high.” .”
Former India captain Kohli, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, scored more runs on Saturday than in the rest of the tournament.
He had managed just 75 runs in seven innings during the competition before the superb match at the Kensington Oval.
Rohit, who opened the innings alongside Kohli, was the team’s best batsman leading the final with 248 runs, including three fifties, at an average of over 41.
He exits the format as the top scorer in T20 internationals with 4,231 runs – Kohli is second with 4,188 runs.
Rohit’s five centuries in T20 internationals are unmatched and he has also won two T20 World Cup titles: winning the first edition as a player in 2007 and now as captain in 2024.
“This was also my last (T20i) match. There is no better time to say goodbye to this format,” Rohit said at the post-match press conference.
“I’m loving every moment of this. I started my career in India playing this format. This is what I wanted, I wanted to win the cup,” he said.
“I wanted it badly. It’s very difficult to express it in words. It was a very emotional moment for me. I wanted this title very much in my life. I’m glad that we finally crossed the line,” he said.
While Rohit has been India’s dominant batsman in this tournament where Kohli has struggled to make progress, it was a case of role reversal on Saturday as Rohit dropped nine as India slumped to 34-3.
But Kohli rebuilt the innings during a 72-run stand with Axar Patel (47) helping India to 176-7, before a fine bowling and fielding display restricted South Africa to 169-8.
“None of us doubted him, we know his qualities,” said Rohit of Kohli, who exited the T20 internationals with 4,188 runs in 117 innings, including 138 fifties, at an average of nearly 49.
“He’s been at the top of his game for 15 years. Big players step up on big occasions and he played the decisive blow today.
“It was a team effort to get to that total but we knew we needed someone to bat the clock and he did it perfectly using all his experience,” added Rohit.
The match also marked the final match in charge of India T20 coach and former captain Rahul Dravid, whose team was jumping in the air in celebration.
“I am very happy for Rahul, he has done a lot for Indian cricket even when he was playing and now coaching,” Rohit said.
“He worked so hard for three years with this time, he was very supportive of the team and understood what the boys needed,” he added.

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