India's 2024 T20 World Cup campaign came to a victorious end on Saturday, ending a trophy drought of 11 years. The win was immediately followed by veterans Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli announcing their international retirements from the T20 format. Here are five players who could step into their shoes. 

Speculation about both players' careers in T20Is began soon after the end of the previous T20 World Cup in 2022. Given their age and suitability to the longer formats, these retirements were not unforeseen by fans or the team management. Rohit and Kohli did not participate in several bilateral T20I series before this World Cup, and India used those opportunities to try out different players at the top of the order, to find long-term successors.

Yashasvi Jaiswal

Right at the top of the pecking order to take over from India's veterans is left-hander Yashasvi Jaiswal. Since the end of the last T20 World Cup, Jaiswal has opened the batting 16 times for India, more than anyone else including Rohit and Kohli. He was also named in this tournament's squad as the backup opener, and there was a distinct possibility that he would make the playing XI as well.

Jaiswal already opens the innings for India in red-ball cricket and although his form was patchy in the most recent IPL season, he remains a supremely aggressive batter in the shortest format, striking at 161 to go with an average of 33 in T20 internationals thus far.


Shubman Gill

In the eyes of many, Shubman Gill is not just a batting successor to Rohit/Kohli, but a captaincy candidate as well. His first stint in charge of Gujarat Titans was largely unsuccessful, but he has a chance to redeem himself on that front during India's upcoming tour of Zimbabwe. Gill is an all-format player for India already, and opens the batting in ODI cricket.

The T20 format perhaps remains Gill's weakest of the three so far, but an 890-run IPL season in 2023 is no fluke. The question may arise as to whether he can handle consistently playing all three formats for India, but only time will tell. 

Ruturaj Gaikwad

A later bloomer than the previous two players, Ruturaj Gaikwad is a T20 player very much in the mould of Kohli; sometimes taking a while to get going but with the tools to accelerate later on in the innings. Jaiswal and Gill are very much first-choice to step up at the moment, but Gaikwad is an excellent alternate to have waiting in the wings. He is also capable of slotting in at No.3.

Gaikwad captained India at the Asian Games in 2023, and has opened in T20Is nine times since the last World Cup. Like Gill, he had an up-and-down IPL this time around. The Zimbabwe tour is an important one for him personally, if he wants to stake a claim for India's now-vacant opening slots.

Abhishek Sharma

Abhishek Sharma last played in India colours for the U19 side, where he was a left-arm spinning all-rounder who batted in the middle/lower order. However, he has taken the IPL by storm at the top of the order in the last couple of years (710 runs at a strike rate of 180), and earned a maiden international call-up for the Zimbabwe tour.

Watch: Abhishek Sharma smashes 14 sixes in 25-ball hundred in local game

Offering an option with the ball as well, Abhishek provides a different dimension to India's other opening options. He is also a candidate for the No.3/No.4 slot given his ability to smash spin bowling. But if India want a left-hander to push or even overtake Jaiswal for (likely) his spot at the top, Abhishek is a superb choice.   

Sanju Samson

Sanju Samson has opened the innings just once for India — in their warm-up match against Bangladesh ahead of this tournament. While he is not a regular T20 opener, he has done the job on 44 occasions throughout his career (with mixed results), as well as coming to the crease early when batting at No.3. Unable to nail down a place in India's middle-order thus far, he could be a more experienced alternative at the top in case some of the younger players take a while to hit their stride.

Ishan Kishan likely would have been ahead of Samson in the pecking order, but his central contract situation and non-selection for the tour of Zimbabwe make him look unlikely at this point in time. India would not go amiss by looking at another wicketkeeping option who can open the batting.   

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