India News: Gautam Gambhir backs Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to play in 2027 ODI World Cup if they can stay fit

On Rohit and Kohli: “Obviously, any team would want to have both of them for as long as possible”

Gambhir: Any team would want to have Rohit and Kohli

“Seeing what Virat and Rohit have to offer, I think they still have a lot of cricket left to play”

Gautam Gambhir, whose stint as India’s new coach will begin with the tour of Sri Lanka later this month, has had several on-field run-ins with Virat Kohli in the past but said their relationship is “between two mature individuals” and is not for public consumption. He also said the two are “on the same page” when it comes to the shared goal of achieving success for the men’s national team.

“It’s good for the GOP but my relationship is not public,” Gambhir said on Monday when asked about Kohli at his first press conference since taking up his new role. “What kind of relationship do I have with Virat Kohli? I think it’s between two mature people.”

“On the pitch, everyone has the right to fight for their own team, for their own jersey, and they want to come back to a winning dressing room. But, at this moment, I think you are representing India and 140 million Indians and I am sure we will be on the same page and try to make India proud.

“We have a very good relationship off the pitch and we will continue like this. But yes, to make it clearer what kind of relationship (we have), I think it is between two people.”

Kohli and Gambhir had a fight during an IPL match in 2013 when Gambhir was the captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders. Later, there was another incident when Gambhir was the mentor of the Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL 2023. Gambhir, while celebrating LSG’s one-run win over Royal Challengers Bengaluru, was seen silencing the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, a gesture that Kohli repeated at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow when RCB won the second leg. In the end, the people around them had to separate Kohli and Gambhir.

However, during IPL 2024, the two were seen being friendly in public. When asked about his relationship with Kohli, Gambhir said that “the perception was far from the reality.” And when Kohli was asked about it during the season, he said, “I hugged Naveen (ul-Haq, with whom he had an altercation in IPL 2023), and then the other day, Gauti brother He came and hugged me… We are not children anymore.”

Gambhir said he and Kohli had had discussions in recent times, but did not want to divulge the details.

“I have spoken to him many times, after my announcement or before my announcement, during matches, after matches… I think sometimes just wanting to make headlines is not important,” Gambhir said. “The most important thing now is that we both have to work very hard to make India proud. And that is our job.

“He is a great professional, a world-class athlete, a world-class player. I have always said that. I have enormous respect for him as a player and that will continue to be the case. I hope we can work very well together.”

Gambhir on Rohit and Kohli: ‘Both have a lot of cricket ahead of them’ fake images

Gambhir backs Rohit and Kohli to play in 2027 ODI World Cup

Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who retired from T20Is after India’s World Cup win last month, have been named in the ODI squad for the tour of Sri Lanka but are both over 35 and the next 50-over World Cup is not until 2027. How long will they be in the team? Gambhir has left that decision up to the two players but feels they still have “a lot of cricket left in them” if they “can maintain their fitness”.

“I think they have shown what they can offer on the big stage, be it the T20 World Cup or the 50-overs World Cup,” Gambhir said. “One thing I can be very sure of is that both boys have a lot of cricket left in them. More importantly, with the Champions Trophy (in 2025) and a big tour of Australia (in November 2024), they will obviously be motivated enough. And then hopefully, if they can maintain their form, the 2027 (ODI) World Cup as well.

“But it’s a very personal decision. I can’t say how much cricket they have left to play. Ultimately, it also depends on them, on the players. How much they can contribute to the success of the team. Because, ultimately, it’s the team that matters.

“But if you look at what Virat and Rohit can offer, I think they still have a lot of cricket left to play. They are still world-class players and obviously any team would want to have both of them for as long as possible.”

Abhimanyu Bose is deputy editor of ESPNcricinfo

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