'We were sidelined first and then informed. It shouldn't happen to Virat Kohli': Harbhajan's explosive take
Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are reportedly not part of India's T20I future but the selectors need to give them the respect they deserve.
Seven hundred runs in 12 matches at an average of 70 with seven fifties and one century – these are Virat Kohli's numbers for India since returning from a break at last year's Asia Cup. He was the second-highest scorer of the tournament with 276 runs – five short of Mohammad Rizwan's 281 – and averaged a mind-blowing 92 in the UAE although India failed to qualify for the final.
Kohli carried his stellar return to form at the T20 World Cup in Australia, where he scored another 296 runs to lead the charts. This time, that average shot up to a whopping 98.66. The four half-centuries – including the monumental unbeaten 82 against Pakistan at the MCG – played their role but once again, India stumbled and crashed out in the semifinal. This was the same man who was struggling to put bat to ball a few months earlier, in England.
But even as the world celebrated the return of King Kohli, the bigger picture was India's back-to-back failures to win two big tournaments. According to reports, Kohli and captain Rohit Sharma were told they didn't figure in India's future T20 plans given that the next World Cup was two years away. It was time to blood youngsters and the logic was sound.
Adding credence to the reports was the fact that India played eight T20Is since the World Cup but Kohli didn't figure in any of those matches. Transparency isn't Indian cricket's strongest suit – Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and even Kapil Dev will all agree – but in Kohli's case, former spinner Harbhajan Singh wants some clarity from the BCCI and its selectors.
"See, I don't know what selectors have in their minds and what they want to do but if we don't win big tournaments like the World Cup, there always is pressure and the senior players bear the brunt of it. We tend to say 'If the established stars are not able to win, we might as well pick youngsters – we should invest in them'. But as far as Virat is concerned, I don't think he can be sidelined on the basis of form," Harbhajan, who is an expert with Star Sports, official TV broadcaster of IPL 2023, told Hindustan Times.
"Yes, you can of course speak to him and convey that look we are building a young team but whatever they choose to do, it should be conveyed to seniors. They shouldn't be informed after a decision is made."
Kohli and Team India's next big destination is the World Cup at home six months from now – their best chance to win the ICC silverware and end a 10-year-wait and going by the former India skipper's red-hot form in IPL 2023, he is not throwing in the towel just yet. With 364 runs in nine games, including five fifties – Kohli seems to once again be in peak form.
This is also why Harbhajan hopes the BCCI show some respect towards their former skipper. Regardless of the decision taken by the selectors, the communication has to be clear.
"We were sidelined first and then got to know through newspapers. It shouldn't happen to Kohli. A player should be given respect – be it Rohit, Virat or whoever else. Communication is the key. If conducted properly, it will create a healthy relationship between players and selectors because if someone is sidelined and not informed about it, that leaves a sour taste in every player's mouth," said Harbhajan.