Sharma and Kohli leave behind a legacy, almost a dynasty

Sharma and Kohli leave behind a legacy, almost a dynasty

Reading time: 3 minutes

It is a well-known quirk of cricket’s incredible popularity in India that its best players are revered as legitimate religious figures. Although all Indian cricketers are by default galacticthe best are considered higher beings. That is why the simultaneous retirements – from T20 internationals – of the all-time greats Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are so memorable. In fact, the duo – and in a way fellow retiree Ravindra Jadeja – leave behind a legacy that was almost a dynasty.

The stats tell much of the story, but not all. Sharma and Kohli retire as the format’s two leading run-scorers, and no one has hit more sixes than Sharma in T20 internationals to date. It’s easy to forget that Sharma starred in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa 17 years ago, in a team that also featured long-retired names like Ajit Agarkar, S Sreesanth and Grand Final hero Joginder Sharma, who now works as a police officer in Haryana.

Some of Kohli’s most memorable performances – in whatever format – have come in T20 internationals. In fact, the greatest knock in modern cricket history probably came from Kohli’s bat during the 2022 World Cup, with his straight six off Pakistan’s Haris Rauf perhaps the most repeated cricket knock of all time.

Sharma will also be remembered for his dazzling hands in both of India’s successful T20 World Cup campaigns, including decisive victories against very different South African teams in both tournaments.

Sharma and Kohli

In the almost two decades since the first edition, India have come close to reclaiming the trophy on several occasions, but without success, until the latest edition. Runners-up in 2014, semi-finalists in 2016 and 2022 – and favourites to win the title each time – there is a sense that, had those opportunities been seized, Sharma and Kohli could have led a veritable dynasty during their careers, on a par with the great Australian teams, including the incumbents led by Pat Cummins.

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

It’s no wonder that executives are rushing to drum up more fanfare. Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley recently revealed his desire to have Australia host a tri-series with India and Pakistan, given that the two subcontinents have suspended all bilateral ties outside of the ICC and Asia Cup tournaments. “If we can play a role in helping and facilitating the India vs Pakistan bilateral series, we’d be happy to do so,” Hockley said at a recent press conference.

It would not be the first time that Australia would host the arch-rivals, as limited-overs tri-series had previously been a regular feature of the Australian summer. Pakistan and India faced Australia in the 1999-00 Carlton and United tri-series, a series in which an Indian team featuring Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman and Dravid won a single ODI match.

These names have remained indelibly etched in cricket folklore, and so have the exploits of Sharma and Kohli in the shortest format.

Read more: Sports culture: Cricket’s supremacy exposed again