End of an era as Kohli quits Test captaincy

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli has seven Test wins in SENA. File photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

It's the end of an era as Virat Kohli has stepped down as India's Test captain. There were indications that Kohli was not enjoying captaincy of late. Kohli was hurt by the BCCI decision to sack him as ODI skipper. The departure of Ravi Shastri and arrival of Rahul Dravid as the new head coach plus the anointment of Rohit Sharma as white-ball captain would have also hastened the decision. 

The failure to conquer the 'Final Frontier' of South Africa would have also made Kohli to call it quits. He leaves as India's most successful Test captain with 40 wins from 68 matches. India's maiden series triumph in Australia in 2018-19 remains the high point of his captaincy. However, his greatest achievement has to be making India win Test matches consistently in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia). Kohli has seven Test wins in SENA as opposed to other modern Indian captains Sourav Ganguly (2), Dravid (2) and  M S Dhoni (2). 

Kohli was quick to realise that India needed pacers to win overseas and in Shastri he had a like-minded coach. The two were not afraid to lose in pursuit of victory as demonstrated in Kohli's very first Test as captain against Australia at Adelaide in 2014. Kohli backed the pacers to the hilt and made India a fitter unit by his own example. Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant, who are two of India's biggest match-winners at present, blossomed under his leadership. Kohli is an aggressive player by nature and this trait rubbed on to his teammates as well.

On the flip side Kohli invariably made changes to the playing eleven and an obsession to play five bowlers hurt the balance of the team on occasions. Also big scores have eluded him in the past couple of years. The pressure of captaining India takes a toll on the mind and his behaviour on the field crossed the limits at times. 

Rohit Sharma is the favourite to take over from Kohli. None less than Dhoni has said in the past that split-captaincy won't work in India. Rohit is likely to be in charge across the formats for at least a couple of years. 

With Kohli no longer at the helm, there will be changes in the Indian Test squad as well. It could well be curtains for the struggling duo of Ajnkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. Young guns Shubman Gill and Shreay Iyer as well as Hanuma Vihari are likely to get more chances. The Indian pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are getting no younger as the team is staring at a transition. 

India have grown from strength to strength under Ganguly, Dravid, Dhoni and Kohli. The new captain is also expected to continue the fine run and Kohli has ensured he has tough legacy to follow. Kohli gave his all for Team India and there is nothing more one can ask of an Indian captain. 

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