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'He needs to give that respect to Rohit and Kohli' - Shoaib Akhtar's big message to Hardik Pandya amid high possibility of India's post-World Cup transition

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have not featured in a single T20I since the last edition of the World Cup in Australia in 2022.

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Mathew K
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Hardik Pandya & Shoaib Akhtar (Source: Twitter)

Hardik Pandya & Shoaib Akhtar (Source: Twitter)

After the heartbreaking exit from the 2023 ODI World Cup, the Indian cricket team might sooner or later undergo a transitional phase. While every Indian is yet to fully recover from their final surrender to Australia, the selectors and the Indian Cricket Board need to move on and look to build for the future. The next ODI World Cup will be in 2027, by which time veteran players Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will be 39 and 40 respectively.

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While there is no doubt about the quality of cricket from these players, the four-year period is a little too long now. Will the Indian Cricket Board take a bold decision to field Kohli and Rohit in the next ODI World Cup? Now let's leave the 50-over format aside and come to the shortest format. India's next major international event is the T20 World Cup to be held in West Indies and USA in June 2024.

Kohli and Rohit have not featured in a single T20I since the last edition of the World Cup in Australia in 2022. Their participation in the premier 20-over tournament looks very slim at the moment as the governing body of Indian cricket has already signalled they have moved on from experienced campaigners to youngsters.  

They are legends of Indian cricket: Shoaib Akhtar on Rohit and Kohli 

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Hardik Pandya is likely to take over the captaincy baton from Rohit in white-ball cricket as the all-rounder has led the side in the 36-year-old's absence. With Pandya expected to take the reins in the near future, former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar said it is the former's responsibility to ensure that Kohli and Rohit get the respect they deserve before saying goodbye in case of a transition phase. 

"I'm maybe putting pressure on Hardik Pandya through this but he needs to give that respect to Rohit and Kohli. He is in the team because of them. The kind of favours he has got in the team from them should be repaid. And they are legends of Indian cricket, so they should be given due respect before they are let go," said Akhtar. 

"When Dhoni came, he gave respect to Sachin Tendulkar. When Virat came, he respected Dhoni. When Rohit replaced Virat, he also gave him respect. So, now it's up to Hardik Pandya how he wants to send these two great players off. It's up to him now to put his put down. And he has to bid them goodbye respectfully. They deserve this respect," the former pacer added. 

Shoaib Akhtar Hardik Pandya Rohit Sharma Virat Kohli India