Currently there’s a possibility that both stars may be included in the squad with a potential stipulation that performance during the IPL will weigh heavily in determining their selection for the T20 World Cup.
Further deliberations might occur, with the final decision potentially resting with the top brass of the BCCI.
Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar had flown into South Africa during the second Test to talk to the two veterans, and both have made themselves available. But there are too many external factors, and eventually, the BCCI’s all-powerful secretary Jay Shah might be required to take a decision.
There are only five days to go for the first T20I against the visiting Afghanistan and the BCCI is yet to announce the squad for the three-match series starting January 11.
Agarkar has left for India and possibly the squad will be announced once he is back, in next 24 to 48 hours.
It is understood that the team’s balance could be an issue if both Rohit and Kohli are included in the playing XI.
“If you have Rohit, Shubman Gill, Virat, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik constituting your top five then where is your left-hander? Now, let’s assume you drop Kohli and play Gill at No.3 with Yashasvi Jaiswal opening with Rohit. Can Ajit take that bold call,” a former national selector told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
If the selectors include both Rohit and Kohli, the two people who would miss out are Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan, the latter being a left-handed keeper-batter and a top-order batting option.
Having both Rohit and Kohli also means that the think tank plays Jitesh Sharma as the keeper besides including Rinku Singh. In that case, one can only fit in five bowlers with Hardik Pandya (after he is back from his injury layoff) needing to bowl four overs in each game.
“The flexibility will always be an issue but there would always be external factors that need to be countered. Did you see ICC promoting the tourney with Kohli’s giant billboard video in New York. MI handle put that aerial advert of Rohit and Shaheen Shah Afridi. So there will be external pressure,” a former BCCI office bearer said.
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“It will be on Jay how much he can empower Agarkar’s committee. As of now you need to accommodate both or drop both. The sensible thing would be to include both for Afghanistan and not make any promise for World T20 till the IPL performance is monitored,” the veteran administrator said.
(With inputs from PTI)