It took one disclosure to open a can of worms that Indian skipper, Virat Kohli would rather want hidden. This is what happens across fields and through various ages. Someone must take the onus of setting the record straight and taking matters to their logical end when things become unbearable. With Ravichandran Ashwin’s reported complaint to BCCI secretary Jay Shah regarding Virat Kohli’s behaviour and captaincy, a larger divide is now emerging from within team India. TFI had reported recently how team India seems to be revolting against their captain – Virat Kohli. Now, two more players are said to have approached the BCCI against Kohli, and things only get worse for the skipper here on.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are unhappy with Virat Kohli’s captaincy following the loss in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in June. According to a recent report by the New Indian Express, both the senior batsmen were “pulled up by Kohli in the dressing room”. Pujara scored 8 off 54 balls in the first innings and managed only 15 runs off 80 balls in the second while Rahane fared better scoring 49 in the first and added 15 off 40 balls in the second.
What Have Pujara and Rahane Done?
Pujara and Rahane, after the WTC final, had approached the BCCI Secretary, Jay Shah, to discuss Virat Kohli’s captaincy, particularly off the field. The New Indian Express report said, “While the team took a two-week break after the WTC final, it is reliably learnt that the two batsmen dialled the secretary personally, following which the BCCI seems to have stepped in.”
The phone calls were not taken lightly by the BCCI. After receiving complaints from three senior players of the Indian team, BCCI began a process of seeking feedback from a few other players and decided to act at the end of the tour. While Kohli attributed workload management as a reason to step aside as the T20 captain, it is learnt that the BCCI will now decide on his 50-over (ODI) captaincy after the end of the T20 World Cup.
Ashwin’s Mutiny Against Kohli
IANS emphatically reported that if sources are to be believed, the revolt against Virat had started within the team a few months ago. It has come to light that several senior players in the dressing room were miffed at the attitude of the ace cricketer. Things have gone as far as a senior player of the team complaining to the BCCI secretary against Virat for making him feel ‘insecure’. Virat had reportedly accused the senior cricketer of showing ‘no intent’ during the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
IANS had reported senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is one of the “mutineers” against Virat Kohli. During the tour of England, Virat’s insistence on not including Ashwin in the playing XI, despite the advice of experts, has worsened the woes for the captain. Furthermore, Virat Kohli wanted the inclusion of Yuzvendra Chahal in the T20 team instead of Ashwin. However, the BCCI sternly included Ashwin in the team, and this has only led to the widening of fault lines between Kohli and the cricket board. Additionally, the BCCI’s appointment of MS Dhoni as a mentor for the T20 World Cup team came as a surprise for Kohli and is a clear attempt by the cricket board to rein in the captain’s authority.
Interestingly, Kohli’s performance and ability to serve as captain has come under scrutiny within the BCCI after this very championship. Needless to say, whoever the senior player was, his complaint has definitely put the BCCI and its top officials on alert. In a meeting held by the BCCI office-bearers in July after the WTC Final, it emerged that a lot of them are unsatisfied with Virat’s captaincy. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, vice-president Rajiv Shukla, secretary Jay Shah, and the treasurer Arun Dhumal were all a part of the meeting.
For team players to turn against their captain is really a statement against Kohli’s ability to lead the Indian team. Interestingly, after the complaints by at least three players to the BCCI against Kohli, the skipper has relinquished the captaincy of Royal Challengers Bangalore and the World T20 teams. Given the chatter of BCCI closing in on Kohli’s captaincy across formats, it seems Kohli wanted to convey that the decision to give up the captaincy was by his own accord and that the BCCI played no role in it whatsoever. However, the reality seems quite contradicting.