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The rift and reasons: Why Virat Kohli lost ODI captaincy and the Rohit Sharma conundrum

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Rohit Sharma’s appointment as the Indian cricket team’s ODI captain by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) late in 2021 sparked off a debate within the cricketing fraternity about a potential rift between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

Earlier in September this year, citing workload issues, Kohli had announced his decision to relinquish the T20 international captaincy post the T20 World Cup in UAE. However, he was expected to lead the Indian team in ODI and Test cricket. The BCCI though had other ideas as Rohit Sharma was handed over the ODI captaincy reigns ahead of the South Africa tour. 

The decision comes at a time when Kohli is amongst the most successful Indian captains in the one-day format, possessing a win percentage of 70 while bettering the likes of MS Dhoni, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly who have more wins under their belt. 

However, this is not the first instance where Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been in the headlines. Here’s how things have evolved over the years involving two Indian batting stalwarts. 

Rumoured spat between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in 2019 

Reports of a potential fallout between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma had emerged back in July 2019 after India’s semi-final exit from the 50-over World Cup. However, Kohli shrugged off the rumours in one of the press conferences stating all is well between the two batters.   

“I’ve played the game for 11 years, Rohit has played for 10 years. It’s bizarre that you people are creating this on the outside when, as I said, (so much) about the change room environment, ” Virat Kohli was quoted saying. 

Virat Kohli steps down from T20I captaincy to focus on batting  

Although workload management was the reason specified by King Kohli for his decision to step down as T20I captain, his own personal form with the bat is likely to be one of the major factors. Kohli has been without an international hundred since November 2019 and the Delhi batter has gone 58 innings without a century, a record he will desperately want to rectify. 

Despite maintaining an average in excess of 50 in all three formats, Kohli hasn’t been at his dominant best. 

Rohit Sharma’s evolution as a cricketer convinces selectors 

Seen purely as a limited-overs specialist a few years ago, Rohit Sharma has evolved as an all-round cricketer with consistent performances in red-ball format over the last year. Since January 2019, Rohit aggregates 58.5 in Test cricket with five hundreds to his name. 

His leadership skills in the Indian T20 League have been exemplary, to say the least with as many as five T20 titles, the most by any captain in the history of the tournament.

His evolution as a complete cricketer could be one of the factors in selectors nominating him to take up the one-day international captaincy of the national team. 

Virat Kohli clears the air

In the media interaction prior to the Indian cricket team’s departure to South Africa, Virat Kohli once again reiterated that everything is well between him and Rohit Sharma. 

“I have been clarifying this for the past 2-3 years, there’s no issue between Rohit and me. I am tired of doing this now.”

Asked about the reason why the selectors dropped him from the one-day captaincy, Kohli said,  “Reasons? Obviously, we haven’t won an ICC tournament. I understand the logic behind why they took it.”

Although Kohli’s explanation gives enough evidence of his expulsion as a one-day international skipper, the rumour of a potential rift between the two holds very little significance. 

Author: Kaustubh Potdar 

Featured photo: Jewel Samad / AFP 

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