Sharma and Kohli leave legacy, almost a dynasty

The statistics tell much of the story, but not all of it. Sharma and Kohli retire as the two leading run-scorers in the T20 format

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It’s a well-known quirk of cricket’s incredible popularity in India that its best players are revered as legitimately religious figures. While all Indian cricketers are, by default, galácticos, the best are regarded as higher beings altogether. It’s why the simultaneous retirement – from T20 internationals – of all-time greats Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli is so momentous. In fact, the duo – and to some extent fellow retiree Ravindra Jadeja – leave behind a legacy that came close to being a dynasty.

The statistics tell much of the story, but not all of it. Sharma and Kohli retire as the two leading run-scorers in the format, and to date, no one has hit more sixes than Sharma in T20 internationals. It’s easy to forget that Sharma played a starring role in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa seventeen years ago, in a team that also featured long-retired names such as Ajit Agarkar, S Sreesanth and grand final hero Joginder Sharma, who now works as a policeman in Haryana.

Some of Kohli’s most memorable performances – in any format – have come in T20 internationals. Indeed, arguably the best shot in modern cricket history came off Kohli’s bat during the 2022 World Cup, with his straight six off Pakistan’s Haris Rauf being perhaps the most replayed cricket shot of all time.

Sharma too, will be remembered for playing scintillating hands in both of India’s successful T20 World Cup campaigns, including match-winning knocks against vastly different South African outfits in both tournaments.

Sharma and Kohli

In the nearly two decades that passed since the inaugural edition, India has come close to lifting the trophy again several times without success, until the latest edition. Runners up in 2014, semi-finalists in 2016 and 2022 – and on each occasion, as favourites to win the title – there’s a sense that, had those opportunities been taken, Sharma and Kohli could have led a veritable dynasty during their careers, matching those of the great Australian sides, including the incumbents led by Pat Cummins.

Of course, it’s not only the Indian public that worships sporting demi-gods like Sharma and Kohli. It’s a staple feature of the cricket-mad subcontinent, with the likes of Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi similarly revered in Pakistan.

It’s no wonder administrators are scrambling to lock in more of the fanfare. Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley recently revealed his desire to see Australia host a tri-series featuring India and Pakistan, given the two subcontinent sides have suspended all bilateral ties outside of ICC and Asia Cup tournaments. “If we can play a role in helping and facilitating the India vs Pakistan bilateral series, we would be more than happy to do so”, said Hockley in a recent press conference.

It wouldn’t be the first time Australia has played host to the arch-rivals, given limited-overs tri-series were formerly a staple of the Australian summer. Pakistan and India faced off against Australia in the 1999/00 Carlton and United tri-series, a series in which an Indian side featuring Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman and Dravid won a solitary ODI game.

Those names have remained etched in cricketing folklore, and even on their achievements in the shortest format alone, so too will Sharma and Kohli’s.

Read more: Cricket’s supremacy laid bare, again

Ritam Mitra
Ritam Mitra
Ritam is an award-winning journalist and lawyer based in Sydney. Ritam writes on domestic and global politics, human rights and social justice, and sport.

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