Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar gave his opinion on the split captaincy debate for the Indian team. Akhtar feels Virat Kohli should think about giving the leadership role to Rohit Sharma in T20Is.

Rohit recently guided Mumbai Indians to record-extending fifth Indian Premier League title. After the historic win, former cricketers and critics joined the bandwagon to implement the split-captaincy in the Indian cricket team.

Akhtar also feels Rohit Sharma leading the Indian Test team against Australia in Virat Kohli’s absence is a no brainer and the-much awaited series will be his “best chance” to stake a claim for captaincy in one of the limited-overs formats.

Kohli will return to India after the opening Test match of the series as he has been granted the paternity leave for the birth of his first child.

The former Pakistan pacer believes Rohit should be the ideal option to take over the captaincy from Kohli in the Australia Test series in place India’s red-ball vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane.

Speaking to PTI, Akhtar offered his view on the debate.

“My take on it is pretty simple. From what I know Virat is very keen to take the team forward. It all depends on how fatigued he is feeling. He has been playing non-stop since 2010, has got 70 centuries and a mountain of runs under his belt,” he said.

“If he is feeling fatigued, then he should think about giving the leadership role to Rohit in one of the formats (preferably T20s).

“I could see the boredom on his face during the IPL, maybe it was because of the bio-bubble situation, he seemed a bit stressed out. It all depends on how he feels. Rohit has been ready for captaincy for a while.”

The series will also be Rohit’s first in overseas conditions as an opener and he faces a tough task in facing the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

“Rohit is one of the greatest batsmen India has produced. Now he also understands the real value of his talent.

“Australia will be his best chance to prove himself as captain. He should grab it with both hands. He has the talent and ability to lead the team. It will be a tough test for India and I would look for these kind of situations as a player.

“The whole world would be looking at Rohit as captain and batsman. If he does well for himself and the team, then there should be a debate about split captaincy.”

According to Akhtar, India’s middle-order will play a big role in the Australia Test series.

“In my opinion, India have the ability to win again. But if their middle order doesn’t perform, I see them struggling. People will be watching this series with great interest including myself,” he added.

Akhtar further claims that the first two innings of the opening Test will set the tone for the series.

“The day-night Test will be their toughest test. If India play well in those conditions, then you never know. The first two innings of the first Test will tell us where the series is headed.”

“It takes two-three innings to control that forward trigger movement in foreign conditions. You can’t drive on the up and have to play close to the body.

“It will be interesting to see how the pitches will be. The Aussies will come hard at India that is for sure and won’t be giving easy balls to drive,” said the 45-year-old, who played 46 Tests and 163 ODIs for Pakistan.

Akhtar said Australia should produce fast and bouncy wickets for the series as it will help their potent pace attack.

“They can run through teams and they can run through your bodies (laughs). If Australia act wisely, they should produce pace-friendly wickets,” he said referring to the trio of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc.

To match the body language of Australians, Akhtar feels more Indian players will need to have the aggressive approach that Kohli thrives on.