Virat Kohli is the fourth successful Test captain in world cricket after Graeme Smith (53), Ricky Ponting (48) and Steve Waugh (41).
"Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test Captain of India, it’s now," cited Virat Kohli, the former India Test captain in his resignation post on Twitter.
Shocking. Appalling. Dreadful. Heart-breaking.
Isn't it? The captain under whom the entire Indian red-ball cricket revamped is no longer going to lead his national side. Yes, nightmares do come true.
Virat Kohli, one of the best captains to have led the national team across formats, on Saturday evening announced his resignation as India's Test captain.
What could be the reason? What made him take this horrendous decision? - A couple of questions that are striking the minds and souls of millions of cricket fans for the last 12 hours. Meanwhile, only Kohli knows the answer.
While many are speculating that whatever happened in South Africa made him take this decision while few sense that the trophy drought pushed him to this decision. The exact reason, however, is yet to be known.
As fans and the team are looking for a life where Kohli is no longer captain, following his resignation from Test captaincy on Saturday evening, it would be an injustice not to look back on the occasions that have taken the national team to the apex of glory under the Delhi player’s leadership.
Virat Kohli - The Captain Who Feared No One
Kohli took charge, officially, as the captain of India’s Test team in 2015 after MS Dhoni decided to call time on his Test career. The Indian team got a new and wholly different character to lead the side in the form of Kohli. While Dhoni was known for his calm and composed behaviour on the field, where no one could guess what was going on in his mind, Kohli was emotional and unrestrained, wearing his heart on his sleeve, always ready to give it back to the opposition, sometimes with the bat, sometimes with words.
The 33-year-old always believed that his side is no less than any other in world cricket - which is one of the justifications behind India's continued success in Test cricket. Under him, the team reached the pinnacle of ICC Test rankings and also qualified for the final of the first-ever ICC World Test Championship held between 2019 and 2021.
His hunger for the team's success was something ingrained in his system and he would do anything within his limits to achieve that. If that demanded wholesale changes, so be it. If that gave rise to a couple of setbacks, he was ready to accept it. If that tempted criticism, who cares? Nothing, absolutely nothing bothered him and results were before our eyes. India’s dominance in Test cricket got an authoritative Kohli stamp on it.
Brand Ambassador Of Test Cricket
There was a time when red-ball cricket in India was on the verge of decline, it was the format that was getting shadowed under limited-overs cricket. The time when overseas victories were merely a dream for Indian fans. And then came Virat Kohli - the Test captain and finest ambassador of the longest format, who not only transformed the national Test side but made all of us believe that overseas victories are 'not a big deal'.
"Long live Test cricket while we have Virat Kohli,” Australian legend Shane Warne said last September after India beat England by 157 runs in the fourth Test at The Oval to take the series lead.
"They look up to him. He's got the respect of all the players. They back him and they play for him. It's important for a captain that a team plays for you. I think the way Virat conducts himself, we've all got to say, 'Thank You Virat’,” Warne added.
Kohli And Fast-Bowling Culture
Gone are those days when India relied heavily on spinners to torment the opposition's batting order. The pace bowlers, backed completely by captain Kohli have proved to be a potent tool in Team India's success in the longest format of the game and will remain one of the enduring legacies of his leadership tenure.
The best testimony to the aforementioned assumption lies in this piece of statistic - As many as four Indian pacers (Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav) have 100+ wickets under the captaincy of Virat Kohli in Tests. Only under Graeme Smith (7) and Clive Lloyd (5), more pacers had 100+ wickets in Tests.
Coming back to the journey of India under Kohli, the pace-dominant nature of the bowling attack really took shape with the 2018 series in South Africa. Virat recognised and backed a certain set of bowlers, giving them a longer run in the red-ball circuit. If one fast-forwards to 2020-21, the rise of Mohammed Siraj in Test cricket is one of the examples of why Kohli is often addressed as a 'Fast Bowlers’ Captain.'
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav - the men Kohli always believed in. From the 2018 South Africa series to the final day at The Oval last September, the fast-bowling trend has been embedded in the veins of the current India Test side.
Since Kohli took over captaincy duties, the likes of Shami, Bumrah and Ishant have claimed a total of 492 Test wickets at an average of 24.2. The numbers speak for themselves, don't they?
Madan Lal, the former Indian cricketer, hailed the former Indian skipper for always backing fast bowlers.
"The way Virat Kohli is doing it is unbelievable. He is on the right track with the pacers. You've got 4 or 5 bowlers who are going to win us a lot of matches shortly," Madan Lal was quoted as saying to sports analyst Joy Bhattacharjya during the show Sony Ten Pit Stop aired during the days when the fast-bowling attack was taking shape.
The Captain who took Team India's Fitness Regimen to the Next Level
Test cricket isn't only limited to the skills and patience of players, it demands more than that. Fitness is one such factor. Team India's success in the longest format of the game has been spectacular and one reason that can be attributed to it is the change in fitness levels of the cricketers.
The development didn't come in one day. Back in the days when he became captain, he insisted on players meeting fitness parameters to stay in the team.
In an interaction with the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, the former Indian captain emphasised the fitness culture in the national side and the importance of yo-yo test.
“I heard these days there is a yo-yo test for the team, what is this test,” asked PM Modi.
Kohli, smiling, replied, “This test is very important from the fitness point of view. If we talk about the global fitness levels, our fitness level is still low compared to other teams and we want to take it up, which is a basic requirement.”
"I'm the one who goes running first and this is the condition that if I fail then I am also not available for selection. It is important to set that culture and it will lead to improvement in overall fitness levels.”
If India are currently the No. 1 Test team in the world, it is largely because of the cultural change primarily in terms of fitness and also in effecting a fast-bowling revolution that Kohli - the captain brought.
A winning percentage of over 50 (58.82) is not a joke. Kohli's legacy as a Test captain will be known for things much bigger than his incredible numbers and statistics.
India will surely miss Virat Kohli - the Captain.
Here are some of the top twitter reactions as Virat Kohli steps down from Test captaincy: