India vs Sri Lanka: A clear message for India's future in Twenty20 cricket without Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli

    India plays Sri Lanka so often in bilateral cricket at this point that few, if anyone, looks forward to the series as something exciting

    Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli both left out of the T20I squad Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli both left out of the T20I squad

    However, the team announcement for the white-ball home series against the island nation had many cricket fans gripped, mainly because it would hint towards the team's direction for 2023. 

    And it did so in a big way – Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were both left out of the T20I squad, with Hardik Pandya named the skipper for the shortest format. 

    It is as close to an official confirmation as one can expect from the BCCI that the winds of change have blown at last in Indian cricket, particularly for the shortest format of the game. 

    This is because both players have been named in the ODI squad for the same tour. And in the past, the BCCI has made it plain when a player has asked for rest or is seeing his workload managed. 

    There was no mention – either directly in the announcement or via anonymous source-based reports – of either of the senior players being rested. 

    KL Rahul was also not named in the T20I squad but is in the ODI squad, which is along expected lines given his marriage is set to take place at the beginning of the year. 

    And Rishabh Pant has not been named in either of the squads, but no further news has emerged that he has reported to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) due to a minor niggle. 

    But the fact that nothing was mentioned for Rohit and Virat makes it amply clear that this isn't rotation, workload management, or rest. 

    No, it is the two veterans being sent a clear message – we are looking beyond you for the shortest format of the game. 

    How harsh or fair a call this might be is subjective, and there never are easy answers to dropping legends. 

    Rohit has struggled for form throughout 2022, affecting his captaincy. And Virat has found something resembling his best form, but issues with his batting in T20Is remain. 

    It can still be seen as a shock move, mainly because, in recent years, it has been rare to see the board or selectors show this strictness when picking or dropping established veterans. 

    But there is also a school of thought that India needed a reboot in T20Is, that their style of play required them to be more cautious and often too slow. 

    And a lot of this stemmed from the presence of senior pros like Rohit and Virat, who preferred a safety-first approach as compared to the slam-bang approach that other teams have adopted. 

    However you feel about this, it is clear that the long-awaited reboot of the Indian cricket team has gotten underway in earnest. 

    And while these players may still be in the scheme of things for the 2023 World Cup, there seems to be little chance of India being with them come the 2024 T20I World Cup.