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Virat Kohli has been dropped as the ODI captain of India – cementing his downfall as the leader within the Indian cricket set-up. Just recently, Kohli was replaced by Rohit Sharma as the T20 captain and in a similar vein, has been replaced by the 34-year old opener for ODIs, too.
The latest news broke over Twitter and is a stark reminder of the power the BCCI wields as well as their indifference – even to one of their best cricketing products in the history of the Indian game. Virat Kohli has now lost his roles as captain for both formats of limited overs cricket. His departure as the T20 captain came off the back of a torrid display in the most recent T20 World Cup. However, his sacking as the ODI captain has been lambasted as unfair by some and certainly ill-handled by most.
Cricket, as you well know, is the heart and soul of Indian life in most parts of the country. There is very little room for error, and more so forgiveness, in a game that is passionately followed by a large portion of the 1.4 billion strong population. As such, bad performances and more evidently – the inability to win ICC tournaments – will not be tolerated by those in-charge. The removal of Kolhi as ODI captain is somewhat perplexing as he has been highly-successful over the span of 95 games in charge. His win-loss ratio is ranked as the fourth best amongst captains with 50 or more games under their belt. This, and the fact that Kolhi continues to remain one of cricket’s leading players, meant the recent decision by the BCCI came as a shock to the public.
Furthermore, it is the way that the BCCI handled the entire situation that has got so many in uproar. Yesterday, the BCCI released a tweet from their verified account announcing that Rohit Sharma would take over the reigns from here on out. There was no mention of Kolhi nor had he been informed prior to the announcement. It’s a bewildering series of events that have yet to make much sense.
It has now become clear that the BCCI was waiting for Kohli to step down in hopes that Sharma could take over without any backlash. After much confusion and outrage, the BCCI has defended its decision by outlining that two captains in limited overs formats will simply not do. According to them, there needs to be a unified approach to the future leadership and trajectory that the team intends on following across T20s and ODIs. This makes ample sense but it is the way the board went about enacting such change that still baffles the masses.
Ethics and emotional response aside, the dawn of a new leader might well shake things up within the Indian cricket camp. Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma will be looking to reassert the Indian team and one again summit the ICC rankings. Sharma has also been given the vice-captain role for tests, solidifying his presence across all formats.
It remains to be seen how the transition of power affects the dynamics within the changing room. It goes without saying that Virat Kolhi will be licking his wounds – albeit behind closed doors. Dravid will need to ensure that this shift has no tangible consequences between players and the broader team environment.
We will certainly be following the Indian cricket team with great earnest in the coming months.
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