Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli (Credits: Twitter)

Virat Kohli had wanted could have quit as Test captain amid fanfare, after celebrating his 100th Test in Bengaluru, his IPL home, against Sri Lanka in late February.

A senior BCCI official offered a farewell match as captain to Virat Kohli and a gala in Bengaluru during a phone call on Friday when he conveyed the decision to step down.

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

Virat Kohli Refused To Quit As Test Skipper In His 100th Test At Bengaluru Against Sri Lanka

That meant Virat Kohli’s highly successful stint as Test skipper ended with a series and Test defeat. His predecessor, MS Dhoni, called an end to Test captaincy and even career after a draw in the 2014 Melbourne Test, after playing 90 matches, winning 27 Tests out of 60 Tests captained.

Virat Kohli refused. “One match makes no difference. That’s not how I am,” he is known to have said.

Virat Kohli with MS Dhoni Aijaz Rahi / AP
Virat Kohli with MS Dhoni Aijaz Rahi / AP

MS Dhoni is one of the two people Virat Kohli thanked in Saturday’s tweet announcing his resignation.

“A big thank you to MS Dhoni who believed in me as a Captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian Cricket forward,” he said.

Before making his decision public, Virat Kohli spoke with head coach Rahul Dravid, his teammates in the dressing room at Newlands cricket ground, and then to BCCI.  Virat Kohli was disappointed with the lost opportunity of beating South Africa despite taking the series lead.

While BCCI was happy to offer another series for Virat Kohli to lead, it is learned he wanted to give up the pressures and responsibilities that come as captain to focus on batting. Virat Kohli who scored two blazing hundreds on debut as Test captain in Adelaide seven years back was searching for form in his final match as captain, playing two important but laborious knocks at Cape Town. Virat Kohli has averaged 28.14 since January 2020.

“I have always believed in giving my 120 percent in everything I do, and if I can’t do that, I know it’s not the right thing to do. I have absolute clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team,” Kohli said in tweet.

In a span of three months, India’s all-powerful, all-format captain will return to being only a player. Virat Kohli is so far the most successful Test captain India has ever had. Under his captaincy, India played a total of 68 Test matches of which the side won 40, drew 11, and lost 17 games.

Rohit Sharma Will Be Announced Test Skipper Only If The Selectors Are Convinced His Body Can Take Workload Of Leading Across Formats

BCCI is not in a hurry to announce Virat Kohli’s successor for Tests. A call would only be taken closer to the Sri Lanka Test series next month. Those under consideration are Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. While Rohit Sharma is the designated vice-captain, the national selectors, it is learned, would give the nod only if they are convinced his body can take the workload of leading across formats.

India has a heavy schedule, both home and away, across formats in the next two years. It includes the T20 World Cup in October and the race to qualify for the 2023 World Test Championship final, followed by the ODI World Cup in India. KL Rahul is seen as the long-term alternative to rebuild the Test team, which is set for changes in batting.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: Twitter

A final decision will be taken in the upcoming weeks. Both KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma will both be in action. KL Rahul will lead India in the three-match ODI series in South Africa starting on Wednesday 19th January. Rohit Sharma is expected to regain fitness to lead in the home ODI series against West Indies, starting on February 6.

Rohit Sharma’s hamstring injury, after replacing Ajinkya Rahane as Test vice-captain, ruled him out of the South Africa tour. It is known to have forced the selectors to have a long hard look at his fitness levels and workload. Rohit Sharma’s left hamstring injury had also prevented him from playing in all the matches in the 2020 IPL, followed by the limited-overs series in Australia and the first two Tests there.