Opinion

Virat Kohli’s ODI Captaincy : The Massive Hype Did Not Deliver The Desired Results

After Virat Kohli decided to step down as India’s T20I skipper before the 2021 T20 World Cup in 2021 , it was widely assumed that with this move his days as ODI skipper too was on the line . And it happened . But unlike the T20I captaincy where Virat citing workload decided to  step down in the ODI he was removed from the helm .  The BCCI later on shared a post on Twitter thanking Virat Kohli for his services as Team India ODI captain.

Virat could have held on to the ODI captaincy had team India fared well at the T20 World Cup 2021. But the failure to not make even the knock out out stage  was the last nail in the coffin. The  shocking exit also brought to the fore the dismal record under Virat in ICC tournaments –    India lost the 2017 Champions Trophy final to Pakistan ,  to New Zealand in the semis of 2019 ICC World Cup . All these gave cannon fodder to critics to question Virat’s captaincy skills.  These were the big/ mega tournaments and the results simply did not come and thus takes the sheen away from his captaincy. Despite the inability to win a ICC trophy , he however can take solace from the fact that he had led the Men in Blue to several historic bilateral series wins which makes him one of the most successful ODI captains in Indian history. And wins came against New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and West Indies on their backyard.

If failure to win ICC trophy was pointed out by critics then  Virat’s stint at Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper  in the IPL since 2013  too did not  go unnoticed.  Despite several big names Virat was unable to lead them to glory and he finally announced his decision to step down as RCB skipper after the 2021 edition. He will play for the RCB though . Thus indicating  his loyalty to the franchise . Virat has  been with the  RCB since  2008.   So , Virat the skipper was under the scanner.

Hence, the pressure was mounting and it was only matter of time Rohit Sharma ( 5  IPL titles captaining Mumbai Indians and led India well when asked to when Virat was absent)   would replace him . Losing the ODI captaincy to Rohit means  Virat’s wish to lead India in 2023 CC World Cup at home and chance to win the coveted trophy at home like MSD led team  in 2011 remained unfulfilled.

There were reports that BCCI mandarins were rather happy with Virat Kohli’s assertion as the all powerful skipper and his expressive, aggressive abusive  rants on the field had left them red- faced. This narrative to me is nonsense . BCCI pampered Virat Kohli and gave in to his wishes . It appeared spineless.  And in the process emboldened Kohli to seek more. The shameful  manner in  which one of India’s greatest match- winners  and a legend Anil Kumble was  humiliated  and forced to quit mid- way into his tenure as Head coach  citing differences with Virat  exposed BCCI’s inept handling of affairs and Kohli’s prowess . And later on by getting his Favourite Ravi Shastri as Head coach – the narrative was that captain calling the shots while BCCI watching the proceedings from the sidelines as a mute spectator . The BCCI should have told Virat there and then look –  Kumble is our unanimous choice and you will have to follow the diktat. BCCI failed to ensure that. The  result – King Kohli adage.

After the disgraceful Kumble episode,  another example of  Kohli’s brazen arrogance  was to bench the senior  most spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the Tests in England in 2021 tour. The duo of Shastri and Kohli  found one excuse after another to not include him in the playing XI . It  was shocking the the BCCI did not pull up or for the matter question Virat on this. This  was expected since the Board president in no politician or a businessman but  one of India’s most successful Skipper’s Sourav Ganguly, Their silence  was inexplicable  and showed how they were unable to handle Kohli.

Seeing that he become powerful the BCCI decided to sack Kohli as ODI skipper.  And way things are unfolding  in fast pace , Virat’s Test captaincy could well be on the line if results do not happen. Rohit Sharma has been named deputy in Tests  replacing out off form Ajinkya Rahane, so the message is loud and clear. Perform or perish. or simply step aside. Further Kohli will not have that luxury he enjoyed with Shastri  with  the new Head coach – former India skipper and batting legend Rahul Dravid.

Now that India has two captains Rohit – T20I and ODI and Virat in Tests, It remains to be seen how long or successful this two captain theory works in Indian cricket. Legendary Sachin Tendulkar had two disastrous stints as skipper but that did not take his hunger to play for India even when not leading . Legends Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to played on after captaincy stints. The onus is now on Virat to move on  and play without the burden of leadership.

One hopes that Virat does  not take a harsh decision like Sourav Ganguly who  admitted that he announced his retirement in rage  in 2008 . And he still now bitter and laments at every unity why he was sacked a skipper in 2005  and his fall-out with then head coach Greg Chappell. And he was angry at Rahul Dravid replacing him s skipper. But look at the irony of  times, the same Dravid whom Sourav  had directed his ire for replacing him as skipper  was persuaded by Sourav as  BCCI president and other mandarins to take over as head coach of Team India 16 years later.

Lastly, Yes there was flaws in his captaincy but not in Virat the batsman. He has been outstanding  in all formats and is among the best in the game with  Kane Williamson, Steve  Smith , Joe Root. Team India would love to see Virat Back at his devastating best. Though for year or so he has not scored as he would or India would have liked . But there is saying in sport  when it comes to  big players – form is temporary class is permanent. He could take an inspiration from  Aussie David Warner. Look how he has regained his magical touch once again after a period of slump.  Hence it is time Virat Kohli bounces back. That would be fantastic for Team India as he is one of India’s biggest match- winners. How he does it remains to be seen ahead.

 

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