Irrespective of India’s performance at the T20 World Cup, Virat Kohli would have stayed as white-ball captain if he wouldn’t have relinquished T20I captaincy. Once Kohli quit captaincy in the shortest format, the selectors decided to completely separate red-ball and white-ball leaderships to avoid confusion.
“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 and the selectors decided not to split limited-overs captaincy, opting for a complete separation,” Ganguly told The Indian Express.
There’s a school of thought that the failure to win an ICC event had put Kohli’s limited-overs captaincy under pressure and the result at the T20 World Cup could have had a bearing. However, it is understood that the selectors would have retained Kohli as captain in all formats.
Ganguly spoke about the team’s good performance across formats under Kohli’s charge, although not winning an ICC event remained the only missing piece. In fact, to help Kohli, the BCCI brought in MS Dhoni as the team mentor for the T20 World Cup, a decision that was “completely accepted” by India’s former white-ball skipper.
India crashed out of the T20 World Cup in the group phase, but it wouldn’t have jeopardised Kohli’s position.
But as the latter refused to continue as T20I captain, the selectors had to appoint Rohit Sharma for all limited-overs cricket. “The bottom line is that there can’t be two white-ball captains,” said the former India captain.
Indian cricket is usually not used to different captains in different formats, something which is prevalent in England and Australia. Asked if split captaincy and two power centres in the team can create problems going ahead, Ganguly replied in the negative. India had split captaincy before, for two years, when Kohli captained the Test team and Dhoni led in limited-overs cricket.
The BCCI chief spoke about communicating with Kohli about the ODI captaincy change. “I spoke to him. Chief selector spoke to him,” said the Board chief, while wishing Rohit all the best and expecting that he would do a good job.
Three months ago, while relinquishing T20I captaincy, Kohli had expressed his desire to lead India in Tests and ODIs, going ahead.
“Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all 3 formats and captaining regularly for last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI cricket,” he wrote on Instagram on September 16. He also gave up Royal Challengers Bangalore captaincy in the IPL.
Kohli has been one of the most successful white-ball captains. In 95 ODIs, he won in 65. In 45 T20Is, he led India to victory 27 times. But a form slump could be a reason why he didn’t want to continue as T20I captain, to concentrate more on his batting. Over the past two years, he has scored 560 runs in 12 ODIs without a century. His average during this period is 46.66, well below his career average of 59.07. In 20 T20Is during the same period, he has scored 594 runs at 49.50, while in 13 Tests in the last two years, he made 599 runs at an average of 26.04.
Rohit has been Kohli’s longstanding deputy in limited-overs cricket, captaining the team in 10 ODIs and 19 T20Is before he was given the full-time charge during the recently concluded three-match home series against New Zealand. He started with a clean sweep. Five IPL titles, leading Mumbai Indians, made him a shoo-in as Kohli’s successor.
Meanwhile, Ganguly exuded confidence that India would do well in the upcoming three-Test series in South Africa and refused to read too much into the middle-order jitteriness. “The team has won in Australia and they are leading 2-1 in England,” he said.
The BCCI president also confirmed VVS Laxman’s appointment as the director of cricket at the National Cricket Academy, while Troy Cooley’s will be the fast bowling coach. “They have been appointed. No fresh application is required.”