It is true that India’s ODI winning record under Virat Kohli’s captainship has been phenomenal over the years. If we leave aside the fact that India has not won any ICC event under Kohli, the highly-expressive captain holds an envious captaincy record of winning 65 matches in 95 games, a win percentage of 70.43, and 15 wins in the 19 bilateral series.
Kohli, before the T20 World cup, announced that he will be stepping down from the T20 captaincy due to workload management. While there were earlier reports of Kohli opting for an honorable exit from captaincy and unwillingly stepping down or else the BCCI would have axed him, it has now been revealed by BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly that Kohli was requested to continue the captaincy.
Ganguly in his own words, “We (BCCI) had requested Virat not to step down as T20I captain. There was no plan to change captaincy. But he stepped down as T20I captain”
He then revealed that the selectors did not want split captaincy and that having Virat and Rohit as leaders in ODI and T20 respectively would be “would be too much of leadership.”
“So, the selectors felt that they cannot have two white ball captains in two white-ball formats. That’s too much of leadership”
It would have been too much of leadership had another player outside of the leadership Group (Kohli and Rohit) would have been made the ODI captain.
Nothing to take away from Rohit Sharma as he does possess exceptional tactical decision-making skills as evident from his leadership of 5 times IPL winning Mumbai-Indians, but having Virat and Rohit as captains of different white-ball formats would not have been “too much of leadership” as both are unanimously considered as the leaders in the dressing room and have excellent captaincy skills across all formats of the game.
Another thing that one can question is did the selectors not discuss the problem of split-captaincy to Virat Kohli before he stepped down from the T20 captaincy? Maybe Virat would have not stepped down if he knew that ODI captaincy would go over to someone in that case.
Had BCCI would not have stated any reason for axing Kohli, the reason assumed would have been Kohli’s incapability to carry India across the line in the knockout encounters. And that would have been inarguable as, India, more than anything else is now desperately eyeing an ICC trophy, a thing which they achieved almost 9 years ago under MS Dhoni.
Kohli has had plenty of opportunities but unfortunately, his record as captain in do-or-die matches is far from good. Under Kohli, India lost to Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy final, lost to New Zealand in the 2019 Semi-final, and was unable to make the semis in the 2021 T20 World cup.
It would be pretty harsh to judge Kohli as apart from those do-or-die matches, Kohli has been on point in his ODI captaincy. Was the BCCI upset that Kohli stepped down from T20 against their will? Was it easier for BCCI to play ‘tit for tat’ by appointing Sharma as the captain as the player was in the contingent for a long period of time? That is something only insiders will know.