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Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma (Image Credit: Twitter)
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Rohit Sharma Is Expected To Be Ready For West Indies Limited-Overs Series

Rohit Sharma, India’s white-ball captain is recovering well from his left hamstring injury and has a bright chance of making a comeback for the six-match home limited-overs series against the West Indies next month.

Rohit Sharma, who was also the designated Test vice-captain for the tour of South Africa, sustained a left hamstring strain during a net session just prior to the team’s departure for the tour and had to pull out.

Rohit Sharma, India
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: Twitter

Rohit Sharma Is Expected To Be Ready For West Indies 3 ODI And 3 T20I Series After Missing Entire Proteas Tour For Hamstring Injury

He was subsequently also forced to skip the ODIs in South Africa, starting this Wednesday, as he couldn’t attain full fitness before the selection committee announced the team.

“Rohit’s rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) is going pretty well. He is expected to be okay for the West Indies series. It’s still close to three weeks from now before the first ODI is played in Ahmedabad on February 6,” a BCCI source privy to developments said on conditions of anonymity.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. Image Credits: AFP

The series against the West Indies comprises three ODIs and as many T20 internationals. The one-dayers will be played from February 6 to 12, followed by the T20Is from February 15 to 20.

The hamstring has been a recurrent problem for Rohit Sharma which also forced him to miss the first two Test matches as well as the white-ball leg of the tour of Australia in 2020-21. He did make a comeback for the final two Tests after serving a two-week hard quarantine in Sydney for the last two Test matches.

Currently, as per BCCI’s policy, each and every player has to mandatorily appear for fitness tests at the NCA before being awarded ‘fit to play’ certificates. The selection committee is informed about their availability only after this exercise. With Virat Kohli now having relinquished captaincy even from the Test format, there is a greater need for Rohit Sharma to remain injury-free in the current set-up.

Rohit Sharma Is In Excellent Form And Is Tipped To Be All-Time Skipper Despite Fitness Concerns And More Age

It has been an open secret in recent years that apart from being one of the best performers across formats, Rohit Sharma has been a few notches above his peers in terms of acceptance of one and all in this team. Having learned the ropes of captaincy handling Mumbai Indians in the IPL, Rohit Sharma’s man-management is seen closer to MS Dhoni’s style.

Rohit Sharma and Mumbai Indians created history as they won the IPL title for the fifth time, with Rohit winning it for the sixth time. , BCCI/IPL Twitter handle
Rohit Sharma and Mumbai Indians created history as they won the IPL title for the fifth time, with Rohit winning it for the sixth time. , BCCI/IPL Twitter handle.

While KL Rahul, because of his age, is being considered a long-term all-format leader, something which might also have the backing of head coach Rahul Dravid, what will go in Rohit Sharma’s favour, despite the fitness and age concern, is his excellent form across formats.

“Rohit Sharma should be the bridge before BCCI is confident about the next young India captain that they want the team to lead for at least five years. This ICC World Test Championship cycle should be about giving it to an experienced hand rather than someone, whose leadership credentials aren’t proven enough,” a senior BCCI official said.

Rohit Sharma has been advised by experts at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to reduce weight. The reason is his slimmer version will put less pressure on his troublesome hamstring & knee. The injured knee & hamstring has led him to miss a few matches of IPL 2021, India Tour of Australia & now the ongoing India tour of South Africa.

Rohit Sharma is currently working very hard at the NCA. He is currently training with his India teammates Ravindra Jadeja and Sanju Samson among other cricketers.

Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
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Virat Kohli Refuses To Quit As Test Captain In His 100th Test At Bengaluru Against Sri Lanka

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.

Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
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Shubman Gill Likely To Bat In Middle-order; Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara May Be Axed For Sri Lanka Tests

Shubman Gill will lend solidity to the Indian middle-order when a major reshuffle is expected to force struggling Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane out of the Test team. The reshuffle is likely to happen in the wake of India’s shock 1-2 defeat against an unfancied South Africa.

India’s next Test assignment is a two-match series against Sri Lanka, starting February 25 in Bengaluru and at least two middle-order slots will be up for grabs. Rohit Sharma is expected to be fit for that Test series and will take up his opening slot alongside KL Rahul.

Shubman Gill has scored 558 runs so far in 10 Tests averaging 32.82 in his Test career. Shubman Gill has played only 10 Tests and 3 ODIs but is touted as a future star in the making. Shubman Gill didn’t play any of the 4 Tests against hosts England. Shubman Gill was ruled out due to shin splints suffered during the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.

Shubman Gill Photo Credit: (BCCI)
Shubman Gill Photo Credit: (BCCI)

Shubman Gill May Play In Middle Order While There’s A Battle Between Shreyas Iyer And Hanuma Vihari To Take Up The Other Middle Order Slot For Sri Lanka Series

Shubman Gill has mostly played as an opener but it is expected that both team management and the selectors will pick him as a specialist middle-order batter. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s exit from the national side is all but certain. They can only save their places if coach Rahul Dravid puts his foot down and asks the selection committee to give the out-of-form duo one last chance.

But if that happens, it is understandably going to cause a lot of heartburn to all the deserving youngsters, who might feel severely let-down for not getting the break at the right moment in their respective careers.

“I think both Pujara and Rahane will be dropped from the team for the Sri Lanka series. Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari will both play,” Sunil Gavaskar said while commentating on India-South Africa series.

“We’ll have to see who plays at number three. Hanuma Vihari may take Pujara’s place and Shreyas Iyer could be number five in place of Rahane, but we will have to see. Nevertheless, I think there will certainly be two spots up for grabs against Sri Lanka,” Gavaskar was also heard saying.

However, team management’s school of thought might just be divergent from the legendary former India opener. The duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara brings in the same type of defensive game into play during the past two years. The Indian team will need a free-flowing batter in that middle-order, who has the ability to take the game away in one session.

In terms of skills, technique, temperament, Shubman Gill is the solution to the problem. In fact, had KL Rahul not opted out of the New Zealand home series due to niggle and fatigue, Shubman Gill would have played in the middle-order. If Shubman Gill plays at number five, he can exploit the conditions when the ball becomes old and the attack is tired. Also, he has the range to take on the bowlers when the second new ball will be in operation.

Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)
Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer. (Photo Source: Getty Images and BCCI)

The trickier choice is for the other middle-order slot where Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari will be locked in an intense battle. Both batsmen have been impressive — Shreyas Iyer in his short two-Test match career and Hanuma Vihari giving his all in every one of the 12 overseas Tests he has competed in his 13 Test match career.

Hanuma Vihari is a defensive player, who brings in technical solidity and a sense of calm which is a pre-requisite in Test cricket, especially as the conditions and flow of the game keep changing. It makes him a good choice for the number three spot as Cheteshwar Pujara’s replacement but if positive intent and x-factor are considered, Shreyas Iyer is certainly a far better choice.

However, the jury is still out on one aspect of  Shreyas Iyer’s batting which the selectors as well head coach Rahul Dravid will be keenly assessing — the Mumbaikar’s ability to handle short balls.

Ajinkya Rahane And Cheteshwar Pujara Needs To Go Back To The Drawing Board And Rectify Their Defects

Ajinkya Rahane, who lost his vice-captaincy before the South Africa tour, scored 136 runs while Cheteshwar Pujara managed 124 runs. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are 33 years old and perhaps need to go back to the drawing board and revisit what they have been doing wrong.

The problem with professional cricketers is that if a technical flaw crops up in midst of a series, rectifying it is tough and they just work their way around that flaw.

It’s a kind of temporary option but with no dedicated off-seasons like what players of yesteryears enjoyed, probably a break from the national team will give them enough time to work on their flaws and come back stronger.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

It would have been great had the Ranji Trophy 2022 not been put on hold once again as it would have given them quality match practice and the ability to correct mistakes in live game situations which is always the best option.

If not, they might play for English county but to be fair, county stint during the earlier phase wasn’t of great help to either of them. Therefore, it doesn’t look too bright for the duo as some serious talent is waiting in the wings.

While some changes are expected in the batting line-up, the bowling line-up might also have a few changes as Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will be back if fit. The two Test matches against Sri Lanka will be played in Bengaluru and Mohali from February 25 and March 2, respectively. The two teams will also square off in 3 T20Is.

World Test Championship, India
Virat Kohli[photo: Twitter]

Virat Kohli Wants To Make Himself Unsackable As Captain – Sanjay Manjrekar

Former India cricket Sanjay Manjrekar opined that Virat Kohli wanted to make himself unsackable as captain. That’s the reason why the Indian test captain made a surprising decision to step down from Test captaincy.

On Friday Virat Kohli made an announcement that he stepped down from Test captaincy with an immediate effect. The decision came after India lost a test series against South Africa by 1-2 as the hosts beat India by 7 wickets in the Cape Town Test.

Virat Kohli Wants To Make Himself Unsackable As Captain - Sanjay Manjrekar 1
Virat Kohli

Kohli led India in 68 Test matches

Reflecting on his captaincy tenure, Sanjay Manjrekar pointed that Kohli made quite a few decisions in the last few months. At the conclusion of the IPL season in October, he stepped down from RCB’s captaincy. A few days later, he also stated that he would step away from the responsibility of T20I captaincy to manage his workload. Then in December, he was sacked from the ODI captaincy as well.

“It’s come one after the other in a very short span of time – giving up the white-ball captaincy and IPL captaincy as well. This also was unexpected, but it is interesting that all these three resignations of important positions have come so quickly one after the other,” Manjrekar spoke to ESPNCricinfo.

He also added that Kohli wouldn’t want to take his captaincy to the point where he would be sacked from the position.

I think, in some way, he wants to make himself unsackable as captain. When he gets that vibe that his captaincy is under threat, he tends to quit,” he said.

Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli during Shastri's book launch event in London | Twitter
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli during Shastri’s book launch event in London | Twitter

Manjrekar also pointed that there might be a chance that Virat hadn’t felt at home with the current coaching set-up. Notable that after T20 World Cup, Ravi Shastri and Bharat Arun decided to step down from their coaching positions, citing the bio-bubble fatigue. And Rahul Dravid and Paras Mhambrey replaced them since the series against New Zealand.

“The landscape is changing, the scenario around Virat Kohli that allowed him to be himself and flourish. Ravi Shastri coming in. He was uncomfortable when Anil Kumble was the coach and once Shastri and the support staff came in, he felt comfortable. The new coach (Rahul Dravid) is no Ravi Shastri. He would have got some inkling of the kind of support he was going to get,” Manjrekar further said.

“The regime change in the BCCI also has something to do with all these important announcements that Virat has made. Clearly, a guy who finds himself outside his comfort zone. Individually, his batting is not at its best. All that has just added up. He is not in a great space at the moment. These are all emotional decisions that one can understand.” he added.

Kohli captained India in 68 matches with 40 wins and 17 losses. He took over the job in January 2015 when MS Dhoni decided to call of his test career midway in the series against Australia.

Also read Virat Kohli Informed That He Was Stepping Down As Test Skipper In Dressing Room 24 Hours Before His Tweet

Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
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Virat Kohli’s Sudden Decision To Relinquish Test Captaincy Shocked Kiran More, MSK Prasad, Chandrakant Pandit And Madan Lal

Virat Kohli stepping down as Test captain through his tweet came as a shock to the cricketing fraternity and follows the sequence of him announcing his resignation as T20 captain late last year.

The ODI reins also were snatched from him when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced Rohit Sharma as the ODI captain for the tour of South Africa, which has eventually gone to KL Rahul as the holder of three double centuries in the 50-over format has not recovered in time for the ODIs in the Rainbow Nation starting on January 19.

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

Virat Kohli’s Sudden Decision To Relinquish Test Captaincy Shocked Kiran More And MSK Prasad

While the cricketing fraternity was still searching for answers as to what would have prompted Virat Kohli to take this extreme decision, a majority of the people did not see this coming while only a few may claim to have expected this following the 1-2 Test series loss in South Africa.

Virat Kohli – the most successful Indian Test captain with 40 wins from 2014 Adelaide till the day before yesterday in Cape Town and having captained the country in most Tests, 68 – did not want to be sacked as the Test skipper by the BCCI.

Perhaps he did not want to get into a situation in which the great England all-rounder Ian Botham found himself in the 1981 Ashes Tests in his country. Ian Botham stepped down from Test captaincy after the second Test at Lord’s as form abandoned him and wins weren’t coming.

File image of Kiran More | AFP
File image of Kiran More | AFP

It was a series in which Ian Botham was appointed Test captain match after match and not for the entire series, and was on trial. It was the series in which, after he relinquished the captaincy, England went on to win the Ashes through his heroics that included the famous Headingley Test, which is popularly known as the Ian Botham Test.

Former chairman of selectors, MSK Prasad, was “shocked” at Virat Kohli stepping down from captaincy.

“I am still not able to digest the fact that he has stepped down from Test captaincy. Am still searching for the reasons for him stepping down as Test captain. I felt that he still has a lot to offer as a captain and as a player in Tests,” Prasad said from Hyderabad.

Another former chairman of selectors and former India wicketkeeper, Kiran More, was disappointed at Virat Kohli’s sudden decision to step down from Test captaincy.

“The way he has left is a bit sad,” More said.

“The way people have treated him, and I am not talking of the BCCI, and criticized him was not fair. He has played a lot of cricket, he has done well for India. Let’s not forget he is a World Cup winner (2011). He has got 70 international hundreds and is a special player. Performance-wise, we cannot touch him. I am not worried about him stepping down from T20 or ODI captaincy. The way people were criticising him was not good.”

Kiran More felt that the onus now was on the chief coach, Rahul Dravid, and the selectors to regroup the Indian Test team under a new captain.

“This always happens. People have to come together and regroup. That’s the job of Rahul Dravid and the selectors. They are matured cricketers. It is not going to be easy and will take time for the Indian team to settle down. You play Test cricket with your heart. He’s got to perform. Kohli’s 79 and 29 in Cape Town were like 150 on difficult pitch.”

On what lies ahead for Virat Kohli the batsman, Kiran More said: “It is not easy to leave captaincy. He was the captain in all three formats. He must have decided to focus on his batting and win matches for the country. He has always played freely to score 70 international hundreds. The time comes in every captain’s life to move on. Every captain feels it and perhaps he has felt it now.”

The disappointment of not being able to win a Test series in South Africa in two attempts (2017-18 and 2021-22) as captain and the personal form of not being able to score a Test hundred may have cluttered his mind for long and made him take this decision.

But, one positive thing for India is Virat Kohli will now be a player without the weight of expectations of leading India to this victory and that. Virat Kohli can only raise his already-high standards and play as a senior pro and guide the youngsters and the new Test captain with his experience and expertise.

Chandrakant Pandit Was Surprised By Virat Kohli’s Decision

Kiran More’s India team-mate and fellow wicketkeeper, now a successful coach in the domestic circuit, Chandrakant Pandit, was left a little surprised with Kohli’s decision.

“It is a little surprising. I don’t know the reasons,” said Pandit, pondering at his room in Indore, where is planning for Madhya Pradesh as the State team’s head coach.

“He has always been the man behind the success of the Indian team. I have always loved to watch him for his aggression as a player and as a captain. I always like somebody motivating his players, leading from the front and Kohli always had that attitude. I am surprised that he has taken this decision so quickly,” Pandit said.

Chandrakant Pandit hoped that Virat Kohli has not relinquished Test captaincy for the simple reason that India lost the Test series in South Africa.

He said: “It should not be the reason as winning and losing are a part of the game. He is also a role model on the ground to motivate the team. He could have gone for another one or two years (as captain). He has got tremendous fitness. Performances go up and down and that does not mean one gives up captaincy, especially of his calibre.”

While Pandit did agree that the burdens of captaincy off his shoulders would make a difference to Kohli, he said: “He is not one to take pressure. He has always given pressure to others when he is batting or leading the side. That always helps the youngsters in the team. He is not one of those who performs well only without the captaincy pressures. In fact, he likes the challenges of captaincy.”

Madan Lal. Image-Twitter
Madan Lal. Image-Twitter

“I hope whoever is the new captain, he continues with the same aggression as Kohli. The Indian team needs this kind of aggression. The Indian team has tremendous talent. Just that it needs that fire, which we have always seen in Kohli. We talk about batsmen carrying on with the momentum. This Indian team needs to carry on with the momentum from Kohli’s captaincy.”

Former India all-rounder and a selector, Madan Lal, agreed with Chandrakant Pandit’s view that Virat Kohli’s decision should not have been influenced by the lack of success in the Test series in South Africa, and that he wanted to see him for another year or two as Test captain.

Lal said: “What next? He’ll keep on playing for the country and keep on performing. The game is all about performance, nothing else. You have to keep on performing and keep on playing. At the end of the day, it is a performance that counts.

“Kohli has done a very good job as a captain. I wanted to see him as Test captain for one or two years. I like his aggressive nature. People say that he has not got a century for more than two years. But, he has got runs. His contribution is immense. I like his captaincy for his aggressiveness, whatever decision he has taken, he is very positive.”

Madan Lal, a medium-pacer in his days and a crucial member of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian team, acknowledged Virat Kohli’s liking to pack his team with fast bowlers.

“Another thing I liked about Kohli’s captaincy was that he recognised the importance of pace bowlers. When he took over, he knew that he wanted to have four to five fast bowers who could win Test matches for the country.”

Madan Lal stressed that it was not the bowlers who let the team down in South Africa but the batsmen.

“In South Africa, the Indian batting failed, not the bowling department. Kohli has always encouraged fast bowlers and won many games with them. When you have a world-class fast bowler and a world-class spinner, you always win a few more games than anybody else,” the 70-year-old Lal said.

The talk of Virat Kohli not being able to win an ICC Trophy may have annoyed Virat Kohli, felt Madan Lal.

“Perhaps, he was annoyed by the sacking as 50-over captain. He was clear he’d give up 20-over captaincy but not 50-over and Test captaincy. Maybe there was a lack of communication with the selectors, I don’t know. I don’t agree that it has got to do with him not being able to lead India to an ICC trophy win,” Lal said.

Lal said that giving up captaincy might relax Kohli a little, but “the pressure is always going to be there. You are free of pressure only when you score runs. He has set high standards for himself and has to maintain them. That is the pressure he is going to have”.

Virat Kohli on Saturday stunned the cricking world with his sudden decision of relinquishing captaincy in Tests. His decision comes after Team India lost the 3-match Test series to South Africa 2-1. Virat Kohli led in 68 Test matches out of which the team registered victory in 40 games. 17 of them ended in a draw and lost 11 face-offs. Virat Kohli won 40 matches, which is 13 more than next-best MS Dhoni.

Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma
Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma IMAGE: AFP
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Virat Kohli’s Decision To Quit Test Captaincy Means Rohit Sharma May Be Next Test Skipper For Test Series Against Sri Lanka

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.

South Africa leveled the series by 1-1.

SA vs IND Stats Review: India’s tour of South Africa 2021-22, 3rd Test

As South Africa beat India by 7 wickets in the Cape Town Test to clinch the series by 2-1, let’s look back at some relevant numbers of the match.

Final Frontier unconquered:

As South Africa clinched the series by 2-1, India will have to wait longer for their first test series win in the rainbow nation. It was the 8th Test series for India in South Africa and they lost 7 of them as the 2010-11 series was ended in a draw by 1-1.

The first time India travelled to South Africa was in 1992-93 when the hosts won the 4-match series by 1-0, In 1996-97 they beat India by 2-0 (3 matches), In 2001, Shaun Pollock led side beat India by 1-0 (2 matches), Graeme Smith & Co. beat the visitors by 2-1 (3) in 2006-07 and 1-0 (2) in 2013. Then in the last tour in 2018 Proteas under the leadership of Faf du Plessis got the better of Kohli & co. by 2-1 (3 matches).

In fact, India won just 4 test matches in South Africa- Johannesburg (2006), Durban (2010), Johannesburg (2018), Centurion (2021)

SA vs IND Stats Review: India's tour of South Africa 2021-22, 3rd Test 2
South Africa beat India by 2-1 in 3-match series (Credits: Twitter @OfficialCSA

Deja-vu for Rahul Dravid:

It’s not the first time India squandered the advantage of 1-0 and ended up conceding the series by 1-2 in South Africa. In 2006-07, India under the leadership of Rahul Dravid achieved their first Test match win in the rainbow nation as they beat the hosts by 123 runs at Johannesburg to take a 1-0 lead And eventually they ended up losing the series at Cape Town by 1-2.

15 years later again, Rahul Dravid as a coach saw the same thing again as India took a 1-0 lead at Centurion and conceded the series by 1-2 at Cape Town.

Coincidentally the target for South Africa in the Cape Town test (2007) was 211 which they chased down for the loss of 5 wickets and here in 2022, their target was 212.

Catches win matches:

In this test match, all 20 wickets of India have been dismissed as ‘caught’. This is the first-ever such instance in Test cricket.

Previously there were 5 other instances where 19 wickets were dismissed as ‘caught’- Australia vs England at Brisbane 1982, Australia vs Pakistan at Sydney 2010, South Africa vs India at Durban 2010, Australia vs England at Brisbane 2013, South Africa vs England at Cape Town 2020.

Successful chasers against India:

In the 21st century, there were only 3 occasions when a team successfully chased down the target of 200+ against India in the 4th innings and South Africa was the team to do this on all 3 occasions- 211/5 at Cape Town in 2007, 243/3 at Johannesburg in 2021, 212/3 at Cape Town in 2021.

Hundred in losing cause:

Rishabh Pant’s hundred (100*) has been India’s first Test hundred for losing cause since Kohli’s 123 at Perth 2018. Overall this is the 9th Test hundred by an Indian batter to end up on the losing side in South Africa. Sachin Tendulkar appears in this list thrice while Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin, Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, and Virat Kohli are others whose hundreds went in vain in South Africa.

Luck goes for a toss:

This is the only third time when Virat Kohli won the toss and ended up on the losing side. All three occasions happened in the past 13 months- Adelaide 2020, Headingley 2021 and Cape Town 2022. Overall out of 68 tests as captain, Virat Kohli won the toss 31 times in which the team won 24 games, lost thrice while 4 games ended in a draw.

Also read First Edition Of The Under-19 Women’s World Cup Set To Take Place In January 2023

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
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This Is Not What You Expect From An Experienced Test Captain- Gautam Gambhir Hit Out Virat Kohli’s Stump Mic Reactions

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir hit out Virat Kohli’s ‘immature’ behaviour after the controversial DRS call in the second innings of South Africa in Cape Town. Gambhir opined that the Indian captain’s reactions were exaggerated and coach Rahul Dravid should have a word with him.

In the final session of the third day’s play, Dean Elgar was adjudged LBW off the bowling of Ashwin but as the batter reviewed the decision, the hawk-eye projection showed the ball going over the stumps and it left every Indian player furious. Ashwin immediately said through stump mic, “You got to find better ways to win, Supersport.”

Gambhir, Kohli
Gambhir, Kohli

“Dravid would have never reacted in this manner”- Virat Kohli

Kohli also walked towards stumps and said, “Focus on your team while they shine the ball. Not just the opposition. Trying to catch people all the time.”

Talking to Star Sports in the post-match show, Gambhir looked furious over Kohli’s behaviour as he said that it would set a wrong precedent for youngsters.

“This is really bad. What Kohli did, going near the stump mic and reacting in that manner, that is really immature. This is not what you expect from an international captain, from an Indian captain. Then technology isn’t in your hand. Then you have reacted in the same manner when there was a caught-behind appeal on the leg-side, neither did Dean Elgar react in that manner. During that Mayank Agarwal appeal, it looked OUT from the naked eye, but Elgar did not react in that manner,” Gambhir said.

Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
Virat Kohli (File)

He urged India coach Rahul Dravid to have a word with him. This is Kohli’s 68th Test match as captain as Gambhir expects him to behave more maturely as these things are part and parcel of the game. Gambhir also felt that India let the focus shift as they conceded too many runs after that controversy.

“No matter what you say, stuff like he plays with his heart on his sleeve, this reaction was an exaggerated one and you can’t be a role model in this manner. No budding cricketers would want to see this kind of a reaction, especially from the Indian captain. No matter the result in this Test match, this is not what you expect from a Test captain who has led the team for so long. I hope Rahul Dravid has a word with him, because the type of captain Dravid was, he would have never reacted in this manner,” he added.

At the close of the play, South Africa scored 101/2 as the skipper Dean Elgar was caught down the leg side on the last ball of the day as they need another 111 runs.

Also read “We Saw It, You Saw It, I’ll Leave That To The Match Referee To Have A Look At It”- Paras Mhambrey

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
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Aakash Chopra Highlights That Virat Kohli’s 79-run Knock Was Precious Than Many Of His Tons

Aakash Chopra has highlighted that Virat Kohli’s 79-run knock on Day 1 of the third Test against South Africa was more precious than many of his centuries. With the series level at 1-1, India was all out for 223 in the first innings of the third Test with Proteas pacer Kagiso Rabada taking four wickets.

Virat Kohli played a resolute knock in India’s first innings of the ongoing 3rd and final Test and resisted the South African attack for 201 deliveries. Despite his efforts, Team India was bowled out for 223 runs to give the early advantage to the hosts in the series-deciding encounter.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: Virat Kohli’s 79 More Valuable Than A Lot Of Centuries

In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra was effusive in his praise for Virat Kohli.

He said: “We saw the patience, discipline, determination, dedication and that it is mind over matter. Whatever you want to see in a batter in Test cricket, you got to see that. A century has not been missed by 21 runs but he has scored 79 runs. These 79 runs are more valuable than a lot of centuries.”

Virat Kohli | Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli | Photo Credit: AP

The cricketer-turned-commentator added that Virat Kohli’s praise should be written in golden letters.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “The lone ranger Virat Kohli was left alone as the entire team got out from the other end. You should write poetry in his praise, the sort of batting we saw. We see the beautiful shots from Kohli, we see the domination and the passion. Here, we saw the passion but not the domination.”

The South African bowlers persisted with a line outside the off-stump at the start of Virat Kohli’s innings and played with his patience. However, the Indian skipper did not fall into their trap and refrained from playing those deliveries.

Aakash Chopra: Virat Kohli Might Have Scored A Ton If He Wouldn’t Have Ran Out Of Partners At Other End

Aakash Chopra pointed out that Virat Kohli might have breached the three-figure mark if he had adequate support from the other end. He looked destined to get to that elusive 71st century. With no reliable partners at the other end, the Indian skipper went fishing for a delivery outside off after 200 deliveries at the crease.

He observed: “He did play the drives but played them only after forcing the bowlers to bowl straight, else he will keep on leaving the deliveries. If a partner had remained, he might have scored a few more runs and probably the wait for the century would have ended.”

Rahul Dravid (L) and Virat Kohli in the dressing room during 2nd Test at Wanderers.(Twitter)
Rahul Dravid (L) and Virat Kohli in the dressing room during the 2nd Test at Wanderers. (Twitter)

The 44-year-old also termed the knock as one of the finest he has seen. Virat Kohli scored his second slowest fifty of his career as he reached the mark in 158 balls. Notable that he hasn’t scored a hundred since November 2019 but as he looked like getting one, he ran out of partners so he chased an outside off-stump delivery in search of quick runs.

Aakash Chopra explained: “Whoever saw this knock, will remember it for a long time. It was a knock of absorbing pressure, Kohli was exactly like a sponge. One of the finest knocks you would have seen.”

Aakash Chopra concluded by saying that Virat Kohli’s knock was a fitting birthday tribute to Rahul Dravid. He highlighted that the skipper demonstrated all the qualities of the current India head coach during his knock. Fit-again skipper Virat Kohli scored his highest score in 26 innings, with a gritty 201-ball 79.

Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen brought South Africa back into the game at Lunch with an unbeaten 50-run stand post-Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav’s fiery spell early on Day 2. Jasprit Bumrah castled Aiden Markram’s woodwork on the second ball of the morning while Umesh Yadav also cleaned up Keshav Maharaj to send South Africa totally on the back foot.

Lunch On Day 2 – South Africa 100/3 after 35 overs (Petersen 40*, Van der Dussen 17*) trail India 223 (Kohli 79, Pujara 43, Rabada 4-73)

Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
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Rishabh Pant Entertaining But Frustrating To Watch Said Brad Hogg; The Keeper Was Dismissed For 27 In 3rd Test

Rishabh Pant faced immense criticism over his shot-selection during the second innings of the Johannesburg Test against South Africa. Rishabh Pant had arrived at the crease when India was in a dire need of a partnership.

However, South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen’s attempts to get under Rishabh Pant’s skin worked in favour of the South Africans, as the Indian batter went for an adventurous lofted shot over covers and nicked the ball for a simple catch behind the wickets.

Rishabh Pant. File | Photo Credit: AFP
Rishabh Pant. File | Photo Credit: AFP

Rishabh Pant Can Play Under Pressure As He’s Entertaining But Frustrating To Watch: Brad Hogg

The former left-arm spinner, citing his performances from the Test series in Australia in 2020/21, said that Rishabh Pant can perform under pressure, and conversations with the Indian youngster must be more psychological than technical. Brad Hogg feels that Rishabh Pant was in a different state of mind when he made a wrong and controversial shot selection during the second innings of the Johannesburg Test. He was out on duck in that innings and was in a limelight after that because of his shot selection.

“He’s entertaining but very frustrating to watch – either making a big score or having a brain fade and getting out early which he did in the Johannesburg Test when the team really needed him to lift. Now, we know that he has a reasonable technique… he can play under pressure. He did it in Australia at the Gabba. But in South Africa, he was put under the pump. He walked out of the crease, which tells you that he is a little bit twitchy. He was receiving a few verbals, you could see there was a bit of eagerness. It wasn’t the Rishabh Pant that we know,” Hogg said on his official YouTube channel.

Brad Hogg was a part of two World Cup-winning Australian teams; 2003 and 2007 © Getty Images
Brad Hogg was a part of two World Cup-winning Australian teams; 2003 and 2007 © Getty Images

Rishabh Pant is in limelight because of his shot selection in Johannesburg Test in the second innings. Ex-Australian spinner Brad Hogg feels that Rahul Dravid shouldn’t talk with him regarding the shot selection he made during the second Test against South Africa.

Rahul Dravid Would Have A Word About Rishabh Pant’s Shot Selection But Brad Hogg Reckons He Shouldn’t Be Spoken To

Following the end of the game which saw India concede a seven-wicket defeat, the team’s head coach Rahul Dravid said he would be having “conversations” with Rishabh Pant over his shot-selection. However, former Australian spinner Brad Hogg has insisted that Rishabh Pant’s problem goes deeper than “technique or tactics.”

“Rahul Dravid has come out and said that he’s going to have a word about the shot selection with him. I don’t think he needs to do that – technique or tactics. Stay away from that because we know he’s got the goods to deliver. It’s more psychological. Was he in a positive or a negative frame of mind? Did the verbals get to him? Those are the things you should be looking at. When he’s on the song, I guarantee you that he’s in a different state of mind. In this innings he was in a negative state of mind,” explained Hogg.

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

In the third and final Test of the series, Rishabh Pant started his innings with an aggressive approach again and conceded a soft dismissal when he was on 27. Despite some controversies regarding his selection for the last Test, he has been named on the Indian team sheet for the Cape Town Test which is a series decider. He sliced the ball to gully to be out for 27.

Rishabh Pant has played a significant role in some of Team India’s most memorable wins in the last year or so. The keeper-batsman had a lean patch in Test cricket since his last hundred at Ahmedabad. In 4-match series in England, he scored just 146 runs in 7 innings while in this ongoing series he scored just 86 runs in 5 innings averaging 17.2.

Rishabh Pant had scored 274 runs at an average of 68.50 in five innings for India against Australia in 2020/21 Down Under. The keeper continued his form against England at home where he hit 270 runs at an average of 54.00 as he was the second-highest run-getter for India in the series.

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