'Sad day for me personally': Ravi Shastri hails Virat Kohli as 'India's most aggressive and successful' captain
He had giant shoes to fill with his predecessor MS Dhoni leading India to two World Cup titles but Virat Kohli carved his own niche during his stint as India's captain. The 33-year-old, who led from the front with his attacking batting and was never shy of expressing himself on the field, stepped down as India's Test captain on Saturday, pulling the curtains down on an eventful seven-year innings in the leadership role.
Under Kohli, the Indian Test team rose to the top of the world rankings and also notched up its maiden series win in Australia in 2019. The series triumph against the Aussies perhaps underlined the leadership skills of Kohli, who wore his heart on his sleeve. He signed off with 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests as captain -- the best percentage of any Indian skipper.
Kohli's exit from the leadership role also means that his 100th Test against Sri Lanka next month will be only as a batter looking to end a two-year-long century drought.
"It's been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance every day," Kohli wrote in his statement mentioning that he was quitting the role.
"I've done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there."
His inability to win a world title drew criticism but Kohli's impressive captaincy numbers conceal those flaws. He holds the record for most Test appearances as skipper (68), and only Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Waugh have won more matches than Kohli as captain in the longest format of the sport.
As tributes poured in for Kohli after his announcement, former India head coach Ravi Shastri reserved special praise, stating Virat can hold his head high for what he managed to achieve as Test captain.
"Virat, you can go with your head held high. Few have achieved what you have as captain. Definitely India's most aggressive and successful. Sad day for me personally as this is the team we built together - @imVkohli," tweeted Shastri.
The 'Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri' era came to an end following India's lacklustre performance in the T20 World Cup. Two early 'Super 12' defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand faltered India's chances to advance to the last four, also pulling curtains down on Shastri's coaching term.
Kohli hasn't had the best of relationship with BCCI of late but took the opportunity to thank the Indian board in his statement. He also thanked MS Dhoni and Shastri for being the "engine behind this vehicle".
"I want to thank the BCCI for giving me the opportunity to lead my country for such a long period of time and more importantly to all the teammates who bought into the vision, I had for the team from day one and never gave up in any situation.
"To Ravi bhai and the support group who were the engine behind this vehicle that moved us upwards in Test cricket consistently, you all have played a massive role in bringing this vision to life. Lastly, a big thank you to MS Dhoni who believed in me as a captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian cricket forward," Kohli further wrote.