Virat Kohli has been a phenomenal player. At the height of his cricketing career, he was an irreplaceable and unmatched asset for the Indian cricket team. Virat Kohli became the full-time captain in January 2017 against a visiting England side. Since then, he led India in 95 one-day internationals and managed to win 65 times. Virat Kohli has the best win percentage of 70.43. As ODI captain, Virat Kohli also has the highest batting average of 72.65. The man hit 21 centuries in the 91 innings he played during his captaincy. But winning bilateral ODI series is no match to winning ICC tournaments, and on the championships and World Cup front – Virat Kohli has been a dud.
Virat Kohli was axed as the white ball captain of the Indian team on December 8, reportedly without any comprehensive talks with the BCCI. The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) took a unilateral decision to remove Kohli from ODI captaincy and replace him with Rohit Sharma. They did so by announcing their decision in a tweet as secondary information. Evidently, tensions are rife between Virat Kohli and the BCCI, led by Sourav Ganguly. Virat Kohli’s captaincy career is not a phase of Indian cricket which will be remembered in the times to come, much like Sachin Tendulkar’s stint as the Indian skipper from 1996 to 2000. Therefore, not being able to captain a team efficiently and to victories is not something to be ashamed of. It is a not a statement on a player’s skills. Sachin Tendulkar knew this, which is why he was humble when he was replaced by Sourav Ganguly in 2000. Tendulkar did not treat the axing as an affront to his ego, but Virat Kohli has done just that.
Virat Kohli allows tensions to rise:
Some players are just not fit for leadership roles. They do astoundingly well as individual players contributing to the glory of their team, but when it comes to captaincy, not everyone has the capacity to lead their teams to successive and high-voltage victories. Again, Sachin Tendulkar knew this. He knew he was much better-off as a team player rather than a team leader. He did not allow his ego to cloud his judgement and statements.
Ever since Virat Kohli has been axed as captain, there has been a palpable sense of hostility between him, his extremist fans, and the BCCI. On Wednesday, Virat Kohli addressed a press conference before the team embarked on a test tour to South Africa under his captaincy. It took nearly a week for Virat Kohli to come out and clear the air regarding his relationship with Rohit Sharma and the BCCI, after his removal from captaincy. With Rohit Sharma, he reiterated there were no tensions. But when it came to the BCCI, Kohli chose to be more cryptic, making an accusation against Sourav Ganguly himself.
Kohli alleged that Sourav Ganguly had not urged him to continue captaining the team in the T20 format. Earlier, Ganguly had claimed otherwise. Almost immediately, the BCCI issued a rebuttal, saying once again that the Board had requested Kohli to not give up the T20I captaincy in September. A BCCI source also added that Kohli was informed well in advance on the day of his removal as ODI captain, contrary to the former skipper’s claim that he was contacted only 90 minutes ago.
Virat Kohli, essentially, tried engaging in damage control. He realised matters were going out of his hands and that he needed to calm tempers by appearing conciliatory towards at least the team and its new captain. Evidently, he seems to have made things worse.
Kohli and Tendulkar – a comparative study:
Sachin Tendulkar was replaced by Sourav Ganguly in 2000. Under Tendulkar, India had one of its worse overseas tours ever in the year 1999, when the team went to Australia. India was blanked 0-3 in the Test series and won just one out of the 14 matches in the ODI tri-series involving Pakistan as the third team. Under Sachin’s captaincy, India played 73 ODI matches, out of which it won 23 matches, while losing 43. Tendulkar’s win percentage was an underwhelming 35.07. In Tests, Tendulkar’s record as captain was even worse, with India winning just four and losing nine of the 25 matches while he captained the team. To top it all, Sachin Tendulkar suffered in early 2000s from what was seen as a career-ending tennis arm. Of course, he recovered from it soon and took the bat once again.
Kohli, on the other hand, has had things very easy. Virat Kohli’s win percentage in non-ICC matches and tournaments is much better. In 95 one-day internationals played by the Indian team under Kohli’s tutelage, the Men in Blue managed to win 65 times. So, Kohli’s win percentage is 70.43. But here’s the deal – India has put up abysmal shows at ICC tournaments under Kohli’s leadership. Recently, the Indian team suffered a humiliating loss and subsequent exit from the ICC T20 World Cup. But somehow, Kohli and his fans want the country to ignore these humiliations, and keep harping on the man’s win percentage alone. Sure, Kohli is a brilliant player. But he is not captain material if he cannot win ICC trophies and dominate the global cricket scene.
Virat Kohli must emerge a bigger man now:
For far too long, Virat Kohli has found himself clouded by controversies and conflicts. It is now time for Kohli to take a step back, introspect, rectify his mistakes, rein in his larger-than-life ego, and come back to take his career to new heights as a player of the team. He tried captaincy. The people of India were not impressed, and he has been removed. This is not the time to sulk and sling mud on others. Rather, it is time for self-reflection.
Virat Kohli thinks he can control all aspects of Indian cricket, but that is simply not the case. He is not happy with the BCCI’s selection of Rahul Dravid as coach, and has also been apprehensive about MS Dhoni’s re entry as a mentor for the team. But who is Virat Kohli to decide who can coach the team as a whole? Kohli allowed authority to get into his head, and that was when he set out on a self-destructive path. His cosy eco-chamber with an overrated Ravi Shastri was shattered, and the man has been in an awful mood ever since. He cannot control his nerves – something which is essential for any captain.
If Virat Kohli does not set on a course-correction immediately, his lasting impression on Indian cricket will be his controversial removal as the white-ball captain. If he continues antagonising the BCCI, he will soon lose captaincy of the Test cricket team as well. That would pretty much be the end of his career. And even though Kohli is worth a gigantic Rs. 980 crore – it would all be worth nothing. Sachin Tendulkar is called the ‘God of Cricket’. Yet, he is as humble as any ordinary person. Kohli needs to be humble, get off his high-horse and abandon his selective activism which only further angers the Indian public.
Retiring from Indian cricket by remaining a player in IPL is certainly not a see-off which a player of Kohli’s stature should receive. That the Indian team has, in recent times, remained perpetually worn-out for important tournaments due to the craze for IPL is a separate matter altogether. But Virat Kohli needs to get his act straight as soon as possible. It is now or never for the man.