Virat Kohli will play the ODI series against South Africa, says BCCI official

Updated on Dec 14, 2021 07:20 PM IST

Doubts remain over Kohli playing in the ODI series that follow the three-Test series in South Africa, though it is likely to be cleared on Wednesday when he addresses the media

Virat Kohli will play the ODI series against South Africa, says BCCI official(GETTY IMAGES)
Virat Kohli will play the ODI series against South Africa, says BCCI official(GETTY IMAGES)
By, Mumbai

Talk of a turbulent take-off. That’s what Indian cricket’s latest round of split captaincy project feels like. It is learnt that Virat Kohli, India’s all-format captain for almost the past five years, wanted to opt out of the three-match ODI series in South Africa starting on January 19 for personal reasons. However, he could reconsider his plans and be seen in action if senior BCCI officials are to be believed.

The series will be the first where Kohli, after losing his ODI captaincy, would play under Rohit Sharma. He was rested for last month’s T20Is against New Zealand, which was Sharma’s first series as skipper after Kohli’s tenure ended with the T20 World Cup. On Monday, BCCI announced that Sharma will miss the Test series starting at Centurion on December 26 due to a hamstring injury suffered at training the previous day. That meant India’s new Test vice-captain and most successful opener in the England Test series will miss out.

“To my knowledge, even before any captaincy call was taken, Virat wanted to take a break from the SA ODIs,” Arun Dhumal, BCCI treasurer said, denying reports of any rift between the two senior players. Another BCCI official refuted reports that Kohli will not play the ODIs against the Proteas. “He will be playing in the ODI series,” he said.

Kohli was not available for comment, though as Test skipper he is due to address the pre-departure media conference on Wednesday. The team is due to fly to Johannesburg on Thursday.

The ODI series is crammed with three matches to be played in five days, which would give Kohli only a week away from the game. The first ODI begins three days after the third Test in Cape Town, which would be Kohli’s 100 Test.

There have been rumours that Kohli, after being stripped of ODI captaincy, wants to make a statement by not playing the ODIs. “Virat Kohli has informed that he's not available for the ODI series & Rohit Sharma is unavailable for d upcoming test. There is no harm in takin a break but d timing has to be better. This just substantiates speculation abt d rift. Neither will be giving up d other form of cricket,” tweeted former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin.

BCCI has done nothing to nip the speculation. Chairman of selectors, Chetan Sharma, remains unavailable for comment. What BCCI is clear about is that a judgement call has been taken by the selectors on white-ball captaincy and Sharma, who is expected to regain fitness to lead in the South Africa ODIs, will be in charge for the next couple of years. If Sharma’s fitness fails him at any stage, 29-year-old KL Rahul has already been named vice-captain.

Kohli captained India to 70% wins in ODIs and 60% victories in T20Is but India did not win an ICC trophy under him. But this factor alone did not go against Kohli--he had said he wanted to stay on as ODI skipper while announcing that he would step down as T20 captain. There were voices of dissent against Kohli’s leadership style in the Indian dressing room that was communicated to BCCI ahead of the October-November T2O World Cup. MS Dhoni was named a team mentor quite late. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly recently said he had advised Kohli to stay on as T20 skipper before his announcement on stepping down while explaining why Sharma was also given the ODI captaincy. The uncertainty whether Kohli will play in the ODI series won’t help bring calm to the dressing room.

Kohli, who continues to lead in Tests, is India’s most successful skipper with 39 wins in 66 matches.

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    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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