Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma IMAGE: AFP

Virat Kohli’s relations with the BCCI have reached its lowest ebb, as it can be safely concluded that Virat Kohli has ‘retired hurt,’ the decision only accentuated by a shock defeat against the weakest South African Test side in recent times. It was a Twitter message on September 16 when he informed the world about his decision to quit the T20I captaincy, keen to focus all his energies on Test cricket and ODI format keeping the 2023 World Cup in mind.

Exactly, one day short of four months, the 33-year-old has now joined the list of former India captains in Tests, having announced his decision of stepping down for the second time, this time from the traditional format. In between, he was sacked from the 50-over format, much to his dismay where he spent at least six and a half years of his seven-year captaincy tenure.

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source: AP IMAGE

Virat Kohli Congratulated By Jay Shah On His Tenure As Indian Test Skipper While Rohit Sharma Favourite To Lead India In Tests

Rohit Sharma was the designated Test vice-captain for the tour of South Africa and there won’t be any change to that hierarchy that BCCI has set in place. By natural progression, if all goes well and he is fit, Rohit Sharma will be leading India in Test match cricket with KL Rahul being his deputy. The home series against Sri Lanka will be the first assignment for Rohit Sharma.

However, with two World Cups in two years and so much of cricket, KL Rahul could be seen leading the team from time to time as and when Rohit Sharma takes a break as a part of workload management.  If BCCI sources are to be believed, there has been no prior discussions with any of the top brass as he had burnt his bridges in the pre-departure press conference that became his undoing.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: Twitter

The establishment for once had no inclination to stop him from stepping down. However, before putting out a formal statement, he had informed the BCCI top brass that he is tired. Rahul Dravid is creating a succession plan and the roadmap ahead. This team has moved beyond Virat Kohli as the leader as it will now only be about Virat Kohli as the batsman. So it wasn’t surprising at all when BCCI secretary Jay Shah congratulated Virat Kohli on his decision, which was in one way, an immediate acceptance of his resignation.

“Congratulations to Virat kohli on a tremendous tenure as Team India captain. Virat turned the team into a ruthless fit unit that performed admirably both in India and away. The Test wins in Australia & England have been special,” Shah tweeted.

The series defeat and lack of runs have also pushed him to a corner and with all his support system in and outside the team gone, one of the world’s finest batters had lost the zeal. When Virat Kohli had decided to quit the T20I captaincy, just prior to that, he had a meeting with BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, five selectors. Even Rohit Sharma was present in that meeting.

Virat Kohli referred to this “very meeting” where he had expressed his desire to quit the T20I captaincy and which he said was accepted well by everyone. This is the same meeting that Sourav Ganguly had referred to when he said that he had requested Virat Kohli to stay back as captain.

In between what no one spoke about was how Virat Kohli had come with a proposal of having KL Rahul as his deputy in ODIs while Rohit Sharma remained captain in only T20 format. That proposal was immediately shot down as it would have meant Rohit Sharma would have missed the ODI captaincy despite being a deserving candidate for the job. In this backdrop, Virat Kohli had miscalculated one aspect. He never expected that the BCCI would sack him from ODI captaincy on the pretext of “too much leadership”.

Virat Kohli Contradicted BCCI President Sourav Ganguly Who Stated That He Had Asked Him To Not Resign As T20I Skipper

Someone who has played all his cricket under MS Dhoni, a man who has lived and left on his own terms, Virat Kohli found the sacking difficult to digest. He made a calculated insinuation at BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, accusing the former stalwart of lying (without naming) that the former skipper had asked to him stay back as T20 captain till the World Cup.

That was his first brush with the establishment. Having ended with a bloody nose, BCCI waited and then unleashed its chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma to defend the establishment. The former pacer on his part completely contradicted Virat Kohli.

Virat Kohli wasn’t a fool not to read the writing on the wall when he would have learned that BCCI has thrown a counter-punch on a 31st night when the team was celebrating. He knew that he needed to win the next Test series in order to hold his ground.

Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli.
Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli. (PTI)

Ask any of his teammates, Virat Kohli the batter has the highest respect for his heady achievements and the manic consistency but there was a point between 2017-19 when the Committee of Administrators was in power and the Indian skipper with coach Ravi Shastri by his side had the carte blanche as far as his team-building was concerned.

Somehow, the batsman Virat Kohli earned a lot of respect and unlike an Imran Khan, who had complete devotion from his team, Virat Kohli perhaps found himself in a tight corner. When Jasprit Bumrah on the second day’s end was asked how much has been captain Virat Kohli’s hand in his development, the pacer had replied: “A bowler’s development also depends on his own hard work”. It’s a simple line but said a lot.

Virat Kohli won’t be seen in a press meet for the Indian team in near future. That’s a probable certainty and he looked jaded, tired, and spent when he came for the media interaction.  The answer to a very valid and pointed question on losing focus due to unnecessary stump-mic chatter was more a gibberish one where he only knew what he was trying to explain.

In his farewell note, there wasn’t any thank you note for Rahul Dravid, which he had reserved for the previous coach Ravi Shastri. All captains have a shelf life and better placed are those who judge earlier that it’s time to leave. Virat Kohli judged it but only after the damage was done.