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Rohit, Kohli and a Growing Wall in Indian Cricket before South Africa tour

Rahul Dravid has a crucial role to play managing Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli going forward.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, Indian Cricket Team, BCCI
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli during a partnership in ODI game (©BCCI)

In most cases, whenever two big pillars of a group grow on and try to contribute so much for a side, the fans from both ends try to build a wall on various platforms; although the persons always admit it as a common word called, “Healthy Competition” among them and that seems to be a constant in every field. Of late, one “healthy contest” isn’t helping the Indian Cricket Team at all; you know if you know.

How did the Atmosphere take shape

Just after achieving a huge win against current World Test Champions, New Zealand, in Mumbai on Monday, December 6, most of the players left the hotel for a little break before taking the flight to South Africa.

Meanwhile, the selection committee consisting of chairman Chetan Sharma were discussing over the squads for South Africa as two future points were catching eyes of everyone around the world; one very obvious about the future of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma in the Test side whereas the second point was a possible change in ODI captaincy.

By the time, people somehow tried to realize the fact, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), in their media release already declared the change of leadership in ODI side but didn’t mention the name of either Virat Kohli or the reason behind this commitment.

The record of Kohli in this form of the game - 65 wins in 95 ODIs (15/19 - series wins) - can easily be enough for him to retain his place. Rohit Sharma, who had won the Asia Cup in 2018 in the absence of Virat Kohli, will lead the side in the white ball format in South Africa.

Looking at Some Past Incidents

Before the T20 World Cup 2021, Kohli had publicly announced about his decision on leaving the shortest format captaincy in a social media post.

“Understanding the workload is a very important think and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three formats and captaining regularly for last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI cricket."

There is clear evidence that he really wished to captain India at home in the 2023 World Cup. Not to forget, he left the captaincy of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Indian Premier League (IPL).

The decision to effect change is not a smooth process. If some sources are to be believed, it has been understood that there could be a possibility that the selection panel had asked Virat Kohli to give up ODI captaincy which he didn’t and since he had not been mentioned in the press release, so, the bottom line is that Virat Kohli has been sacked from his place. It took almost 24 hours for the BCCI to come out with a credential post on Virat Kohli which the fans didn’t take lightly.

Takeaways from the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly

But such major settlement doesn’t come under only the selection bunch but from all the big heads of the Cricket Board which means the BCCI and the selectors have come on the same page regarding the decision. And a day after, former India captain and current BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, told news agency ANI, “It’s a call that the BCCI and the selectors took together.”

He further went on to reveal the fact that BCCI had asked Kohli to step down from his position.

“Actually, the BCCI had requested Virat not to step down as the T20I skipper but obviously he didn’t agree,” Ganguly was quoted as saying to ANI about the reason behind their decision.

“And the selectors then didn’t feel it right to have two different captains for two white-ball games,” he added.

Even though Virat Kohli’s childhood coach, Rajkumar Sharma, has denied some of the claims made by Ganguly. “I read Sourav Ganguly’s comments recently that they had asked Kohli not to step down from T20I captaincy (before the World Cup); I don’t recall anything like that,” he said during a Khelneeti Podcast.

“This statement came as a surprise to me. There are different statements circulating around,” he added.

Ganguly, like some of the other past India cricketers, has shown great interest to provide the white ball captaincy cap to Rohit Sharma after his success with Mumbai Indians winning five IPL tittles; although there were still dark clouds over the preference of secretary Jay Shah.

Possible Reason behind removal of Virat Kohli

Couple of probable reasons appear to have played a part behind the exit of Virat Kohli, the captain. The first could be the draught in winning ICC Tournaments for the last eight years. But, how can he be the only reason for India not achieving such a feat? Sections of media and fans are trying to convince us that India would have won an ICC tournament had Virat Kohli not led India.

There have been 12 ODI World Cups, seven T20 World Cups, eight Champions Trophy, one WTC and India have ended up winning just four Trophies and ended one as joint winner during the 2002 Champions Trophy.

In the 2019 World Cup, Rohit Sharma had hit five centuries and by then had won four IPL trophies; all those things were spicing up the murmurs of him being the captain and when Rohit won the fifth IPL trophy in Dubai, the noise got raised.

Another page in the story of removing Virat Kohli from his position, as some insiders within BCCI and the team had told Cricbuzz, could be that Rohit Sharma himself had made it very clear to the board authorities that he wouldn’t take the T20 captaincy if not given the ODI leadership too.

“Absolutely… we have just won, so I am ready,” Rohit did say after the 2018 Asia Cup triumph. “Whenever the opportunity comes, I will be ready,” he added.

Drawbacks of the Incident

Well, there shouldn’t be any problem for anybody except few Virat fans if Rohit Sharma could win an ICC trophy for India and to be honest, Virat would be glad with that undoubtedly. But there should be a reason given by the Board that why the decision had been taken in the manner that it was.

One can understand Rohit being made the vice-captain of the Test team given the poor form of Ajinkya Rahane. And moreover, the reception Virat Kohli received from the board is unacceptable.

Before a huge series in South Africa, new head coach Rahul Dravid is going to face some tough questions handling Rohit under Virat and vice-versa. These are not those U-19 lads who will go with every word he will have but may have alternate perspectives. For Rohit, he will have the challenge in the next 10 months before the T20 World Cup in Australia of handling Virat Kohli who will have an enormous presence in the dressing room.

All in all, a growing wall and some bold decisions before a golden opportunity in South Africa may ruin the team environment. Don’t get surprised if a daring news broke out publicly before the plane leaves India.


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