Ben Stokes' shock retirement from ODIs triggered a wave of concern about the future of the format. Moeen Ali was scathing in his criticism of it, and so was R Ashwin, but 50-over cricket has found a supporter in India captain Rohit Sharma.
"For me, cricket is important - whatever be the format," Rohit was quoted as saying by the Indian Express. "I would never say that ODI is getting finished or T20 is getting finished or Tests are nearing an end. I wish there is another format as well, because for me, playing the game is most important. Since childhood, we dreamt of playing the game for India. Whenever we play ODIs, stadiums are full, the excitement remains high. It's an individual choice as to which format to play or not, but for me, all three formats are important."
While India are in Zimbabwe at the moment to play three ODIs, another Indian squad - the T20 version - is gearing up for the Asia Cup beginning on August 27 in the UAE. India are the defending champions of the Asia Cup; Rohit had led them to the title in 2018. That tournament was played in the 50-over format but this year's Asia Cup is in the T20 format.
"Asia Cup is happening after a long time, but we played Pakistan last year in Dubai, where obviously the result did not go our way," Rohit said. "But the Asia Cup is different now. The team is playing differently and has prepared differently, so a lot of things have changed from then. But for us, we need to assess the conditions, keep in mind the fact that we will be playing in 40-plus degrees. We need to assess all those factors and prepare accordingly."
With less than two months to go for the T20 World Cup, Rohit said the squad that is due to play the Asia Cup could undergo some fine-tuning to best suit the conditions for the tournament in Australia.
"There is still about two-and-a-half months left for the T20 World Cup. Before that, we have the Asia Cup and two home series against Australia and South Africa," Rohit said. "So, more or less 80-90% of your team is set, of course there could be three-four changes if at all depending on the conditions. As of now, we have been playing in India and will play in UAE, so the conditions in Australia will be different. We need to check what suits our team in Australia."
India begin their Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on August 28 with a squad that is nearly at full strength. Fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel were not included because of injuries, and they will be in contention for the T20 World Cup if they return to full fitness. Given the volume of cricket India play, Rohit said that one of his priorities was to create a strong bench strength.
"Bumrah, [Mohammed] Shami and all these guys will not be with the Indian team forever, so you have to try and prepare the other guys," Rohit said. "Myself and Rahul [Dravid] bhai spoke about how we are going to create our bench strength because that's going to be very crucial considering the amount of cricket we play, considering the injury factors and everything. We never want to be a team that relies on one or two individuals, we want to be a team where everyone can contribute and help the team win on their own."