Virat Kohli captaincy controversy: A detailed timeline of how events unfolded for the former India ODI and T20I skipper
- One of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli on Wednesday was removed from the ODI captaincy as Rohit Sharma was assigned the ODI leadership, with the BCCI undergoing a major limited-overs revamp ahead of the South Africa tour.
It was on the cards but no one expected the move to happen so quickly, rather abruptly. One of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli on Wednesday was removed from the ODI captaincy as Rohit Sharma was assigned the ODI leadership, with the BCCI undergoing a major limited-overs revamp ahead of the South Africa tour.
Kohli walks away from the leadership role with an exceptional win percentage of 70.43, which is the most by an Indian ODI skipper who has led the national side in more than 10 games. Overall, he led India to 65 wins in his 95 matches. Talking on the mantle of ODI captaincy from MS Dhoni in 2017, Kohli began his campaign with a 2-1 series win over England. The tale ended with 15 bilateral series victories in Kohli's purse.
The Indian coaching staff also witnessed an overhaul, with Rahul Dravid taking over the charge from Ravi Shastri. The transition was seamless, unlike the change in white-ball captaincy. Many have welcomed the shift, while a few have termed it abrupt. While stepping down from T20 captaincy, Kohli, in fact, had expressed his wish to continue leading the ODI side until the 2023 World Cup in India. But the selection committee was persistent to hand over the baton to Rohit.
Here's the build-up to Kohli's unceremonious exit as the ODI captain
Kohli steps down as India T20I, RCB captain
Virat Kohli in September announced that he will be stepping down as India's T20I skipper after the T20 World Cup, underling the "immense workload" behind his move. The three-format player, who had taken the decision after "a lot of contemplation and discussions with my close people", including the then head coach Ravi Shastri and white-ball vice-captain Rohit Sharma.
Kohli, however, was "fully ready" to captain the team in the other two formats. "Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all 3 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," Kohli had said in his statement.
"I have given everything to the Team during my time as T20 Captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 Team as a batsman moving forward."
Kohli soon dropped another bombshell, announcing his decision to step down as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper after the IPL 2021 season. Kohli, who had taken over the captaincy from Daniel Vettori in 2013, thanked RCB fans and said that he needed "space to refresh, regroup and be absolutely clear in how to move forward."
India crash out of the T20 World Cup
Virat Kohli's swansong tournament ended up being a forgettable one, piling misery on his captaincy stint in major ICC events. The Indian camp was chasing a perfect hurray for its captain and a trophy would've been an ideal scenario for the entire unit.
After their twin failures against arch-rivals Pakistan and bogey team New Zealand, the Indian batters struck form against an Afghanistan bowling attack and later outclassed minnows Scotland in Namibia to finish with six points. In spite of late resurgence, 'favourites' India crashed out of the World T20, ending the team's quest for an ICC trophy during the Kohli-Shastri era.
"Relief firstly. As I said it's been an honour, but things have to be kept in the right perspective. This was the right time for me to manage my workload. It's been six-seven years of intense cricket every time we take the field and it takes a lot out of you," Kohli had said when asked about his emotions after stepping down from T20I captaincy.
Rohit Sharma takes over T20I captaincy
With Virat Kohli rested and Rahul Dravid at the helm, Rohit Sharma flagged off his journey as the T20I skipper on a positive note. India registered a 3-0 series sweep against New Zealand at home, with Rohit notching up two half centuries, but his first major assignment as a white-ball leader will perhaps be in South Africa.
Kohli may have been removed as the ODI skipper, but Rohit still sees him as a "leader" of the pack. Applauding Kohli's contribution to Indian cricket, Rohit, in a recent interview, talked about the importance of his presence in the team.
"A batter of his (Kohli’s) quality is always needed in the squad. To have an average of 50 plus in the T20 format, it is crazy and unreal. Obviously, with the experience… he has batted and bailed India out so many times from difficult situations. The quality and his kind of batsmanship is required. Plus, he is still a leader of the team. All those things put together, you don’t want to miss out. You don’t want to ignore that kind of stuff. His presence is very important to the team," Rohit had said.
BCCI announces Rohit as captain of ODI, T20I teams without any mention of Kohli
The BCCI perhaps wanted absolute clarity between red-ball and white-ball leadership - an outlook that led to the introduction of split captaincy in Indian cricket. However, it was the informal oust of Kohli that irked many fans on social media.
A day after replacing him with Rohit, the BCCI thanked Kohli for leading the team with "grit, passion & determination" during his tenure. The Indian board was apparently waiting for Kohli to voluntary step down from the ODI captaincy but he did not, leading to Rohit taking his place at the top.
Kohli's oust wasn't even addressed by the BCCI when it announced Rohit's appointment as ODI skipper and India's squad for the South Africa tour. "The All-India Senior Selection Committee also decided to name Mr. Rohit Sharma as the Captain of the ODI & T20I teams going forward," the BCCI said in its statement.
Kohli's four-year sojourn as the ODI captain, which took off on a promising note, witnessed an abrupt end with two World Cups in the pipeline. Rohit now has less than a year to prepare for the next year's T20 World Cup in Australia, which will be followed by the 2023 ODI World Cup in India.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly breaks silence on captaincy switch
Virat Kohli's sacking wasn't addressed by the Indian board but president Sourav Ganguly made it clear that they didn't want two different white-ball captains. Ganguly cleared the air, saying that he personally spoke to Kohli about the issue and considered Rohit as the ideal candidate to take up the role.
"Bottom line - there can't be two white-ball captains. I can't explain more about what all was discussed and what selectors have said, but this is the primary reason for having Rohit as white-ball captain, and Virat accepted it," said Ganguly.
The selectors, in fact, had made up their minds when Kohli had relinquished the T20 captaincy. Things fell perfectly into place for Rohit following an impressive T20I series win against New Zealand. "I don't know [about confusion], but that's what they [the selectors] felt," Ganguly added.
BCCI acknowledges Kohli the captain through tweets
The BCCI also penned down a "Thank you" note for Kohli, a day after his exit from the leadership role. “A leader who led the side with grit, passion & determination. Thank you Captain @imVkohli,” tweeted the BCCI along with an infographic mentioning Kohli's achievements in his four-year tenure as the ODI skipper.
The BCCI also shared Kohli's match-winning knocks for the fans to "relive". But that didn't stop them from slamming the selection committee for "sacking" Kohli. A set of cricket pundits and fans gave a nod to the 'change is constant' principle, but the other half wasn't happy with this radical change in power and the ousting of one of the most successful Indian skippers.