Indian skipper Virat Kohli shocked everyone on Thursday when he announced that he will be stepping down as India’s T20 captain after the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. It took the internet by storm as players and fans alike were stunned by the announcement.
However, certain incidents reflect that the decision was not an immediate one and the discussion has been going on for way too long. Although Virat has declared that it is a personal decision and the reason behind the massive step is workload management, things look a bit grimmer.
If you take a look at the turn of events in the last 6 months, there seems to be more of it than just ‘Workload Management’. Certain media reports from credible sources also indicate that a lot took place behind the scenes that led to Virat coming up with such a massive announcement ahead of the T20 World Cup 2021.
Chetan Sharma’s Appointment As The National Selector Drilled The Crack
Chetan Sharma was appointed as the National Selector of the Indian Cricket Team in December 2020 as he replaced Sunil Joshi.
“It’s indeed a privilege for me to get an opportunity to serve Indian cricket once again. I am a man of few words and my action will speak louder than words,” were the first words of Sharma after being appointed as the national selector.
When Sharma uttered these words, hardly did anyone realize how strongly he meant to bring about a change in the Indian team, especially in terms of squad selection. Clearly, everyone who has been following Indian cricket over the last five-six years is aware of the fact that Virat Kohli’s say has had a massive impact on team India’s selection, not only for multi-national events but bilateral series too.
Chetan Sharma’s Maiden Mission Began The Offset
As the chief selector of the India National Cricket Team, Chetan Sharma’s first assignment came in the form of the squad selection for the bilateral Test, ODI and, T20I series between India and England which took place earlier this year ahead of IPL 2021 in India.
This itself didn’t go down well with Virat Kohli as media reports suggest Virat and the Chetan Sharma-led selection committee were at loggerheads for Shikhar Dhawan’s inclusion in the ODI squad.
“He (Virat) had to fight hard to have Shikhar Dhawan in the ODI squad for the India-England series in February- March this year. The selectors, it is learnt, wanted to have another opener who did well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Kohli had insisted that Dhawan, who had by then lost his place in the Twenty20 squad, was a must,” a media report stated.
“It is a different matter that the selectors had to appoint Dhawan as captain for the ODIs in an entirely different scenario (for the Sri Lanka series). So hot was the debate in that March meeting, that the BCCI had to wait for some sort of consensus before making the announcement, almost five days after the squad was picked,” the report further stated.
ICC World Test Championship Final Loss Acted As Another Spark In The Fire
Team India faced New Zealand in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) in the month of July and much to the disappointment of the entire Indian Cricketing fraternity, the subcontinental giants once again failed to lift an ICC trophy under the captaincy of Virat Kohli.
It is reportedly stated that the BCCI senior officials were not at all happy with the team selection by Virat for the WTC final as he decided to go ahead with two spinners on a track that had a lot of support for the seam bowlers.
“The BCCI is deeply concerned about Virat Kohli’s captaincy, especially in the ICC tournaments because of his failure as a captain in the ICC events. In a meeting held by the BCCI office-bearers in July after the WTC Final, it emerged that a lot of BCCI officials are unsatisfied with Virat’s captaincy,” another media report stated.
“BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, Vice-president Rajiv Shukla, Secretary Jay Shah, and the Treasurer Arun Dhumal were all a part of the meeting. The decision to go ahead with 2 spinners in the WTC Final didn’t go too well with the BCCI officials and hence, it was discussed that the T20 World Cup can be the last opportunity for Virat Kohli, especially in the limited-overs format,” the reports further added.
India’s Tour Of England Left The BCCI And Teammates Fuming
Another massive outrage within the BCCI erupted when Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India’s ace pacer and the current best Indian swing bowler, was left out of the Indian squad that had to take on England in a five-match Test series. Reportedly, the BCCI and the members of the Indian Cricket Team were left discontented with the call.
“Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s exclusion from the Indian Test squad against England came as another massive controversial decision that didn’t go down too well with the BCCI officials. Kuldeep Yadav’s treatment, especially after the 2019 World Cup was another issue that was highlighted in the meeting and the BCCI officials didn’t look too pleased with it,” the media report stated.
Ravichandran Ashwin and his handling throughout the England tour was another massive concern for the BCCI and the teammates. Notably, senior players of the Indian Cricket Team were not happy with team management’s decision of leaving out Ravichandran Ashwin of the playing XI throughout the England tour.
Media Reports And Complete Breakdown Of Communication Between The Board And Virat Proved The Final Nail In The Coffin
Although Virat Kohli did not officially come out and state anything in the media about the ongoing tussle between him and the board, media reports emerged from time to time claiming authentic BCCI sources are not in favor of Virat continuing to lead the side. Amidst all this, there was a complete breakdown of communication between the board and the Indian captain.
“Virat knew that he would have been removed from white ball captaincy. If the team doesn’t do well at the UAE World T20, he was gone for good as far as white-ball leadership is concerned,” a BCCI insider, in the know of things, told PTI.
“The problem with Virat is his communication. In case of MS (Dhoni), his room would be open 24×7 and players could just walk in, play the PS4, have a meal and let their hair down and if required talk cricket. Beyond the ground, Kohli is literally incommunicado,” a former India player, who has seen Kohli’s early days of captaincy, told PTI during an informal chat,” the cricketer stated.
“Rohit has shades of MSD but in a different manner. He takes the junior players out for meals, gives them a friendly pat on the back when they are down and knows the mental aspects of a player’s make-up inside out,” the ex-cricketer said.
“He speaks about communication at media conferences but this is the truth that he has hardly hand-held any player when they needed their captain the most,” another cricketer, who is privy to Kohli’s chop-and-change policy, said.
Insecurity Over His Own Captaincy Led The BCCI Taking Massive Steps
After Virat Kohli’s announcement of stepping down as the Indian captain after the T20 World Cup, credible media sources from the BCCI reported that Virat had approached the team management to remove Rohit Sharma as the vice-captain of the ODI side as Rohit is now 34. The report further stated that Virat wanted Rishabh Pant to be the new T0I vice-captain and KL Rahul to be the new ODI vice-captain.
“Kohli went to the selection committee with a proposal that Rohit be removed from the ODI vice-captaincy as he is 34. He wanted the ODI vice-captaincy to be handed to K L Rahul with Rishabh Pant performing the role in the T20 format. This didn’t go down well with the Board which believes that Kohli doesn’t want an actual successor,” a Board source said.
In the BCCI corridors, officials have figured that Kohli wants to safeguard his 50-over captaincy till the 2023 World Cup.
Roads Look Grim And Dark For Virat Kohli As ODI Captaincy Is Also At Stake
The situation now seems quite grim for Indian skipper Virat Kohli as there are a lot of questions roaming in the BCCI corridors, ever since his announcement to step down as the captain. If team India fails to win the ICC T20 World Cup this year and if Rohit Sharma leads the Men in Blue to the T20 World Cup title next year, who will lead India in the 2023 ODI World Cup?
Also if Virat wins the title this year and Rohit fails to win it next year, who will be leading the T20 side? What about the workload management that Virat has cited stepping down as the captain.
Amidst all this, Virat Kohli’s favorite coaching staff is also stepping down after the completion of the T20 World Cup 2021. Now that a couple of captains exist in the setup, who will BCCI lean when it comes to selecting a coach for team India.
A senior BCCI official pointed out an interesting aspect of the Board’s media release on Thursday.
“If you look at Sourav and Jay’s statements, both have congratulated but not a word uttered if he would remain the captain till 2023 ODI World Cup. So, he would remain, is a far-fetched conclusion,” he said.
All these instances point fingers at only one thing, Virat’s statement isn’t completely factual and there’s certainly more to it. If he fails to win the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, there might be an axing in the corridor. Certainly, it will not be good for Indian cricket and for Virat Kohli, the batsman, that he has gone on to become for India over the last decade.