India’s tour of South Africa: Virat Kohli removed as ODI skipper, Rohit Sharma steps in

Rohit Sharma becomes India’s captain across all white-ball cricket, succeeding Virat Kohli as ODI skipper, and will also also be Kohli’s deputy in Test cricket

The biggest development was buried at the bottom of the BCCI’s press release announcing the Test squad for the South Africa tour. For the first time since 2005, the senior selection panel of the BCCI has removed an incumbent as ODI captain. Ever since Virat Kohli gave up his T20 captaincy citing workload, all things have been pointing towards him losing the ODI role too and the selectors, with the full-backing of the BCCI, took the bold step on Wednesday. Going forward, Kohli will remain captain only of the Test team and Rohit Sharma will lead the team in white-ball cricket, apart from being the vice-captain in long format.

The decision in itself isn’t surprising, as teams rarely have two different captains for white-ball cricket. Moreover, it is reliably learned that when Rohit accepted the T20 captaincy, he did so on the pre-condition that he would get to lead in the ODIs too. However, right through this period, Kohli is understood to have made no intentions of stepping down as ODI captain. Having relinquished T20 captaincy citing workload and following it up by stepping down as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, Kohli believed these factors would keep him in good stead to lead the team in ODIs and Tests. Jayant Yadav has been retained in the side and will join Ravichandran Ashwin in a spin skeleton crew.

Virat Kohli Removed Team India Captain, Rohit Sharma Team India ODI Captain;  BCCI Indian Cricket Team Squad South Africa T | Rohit Sharma ODI Captain
Credits: India.com

The Test series will form a part of the new cycle of the ICC World Test Championship and India cannot, therefore, afford to make the trip to South Africa lightly. India last visited South Africa for a Test series in the 2017/18 season when they were narrowly bested by the home side. The tour was thrown into doubt by the emergence of a new strain of COVID-19 but India has affirmed their commitment to travel. Mohammed Siraj’s impressive series against New Zealand should be enough to see him earn a place in the XI for the first Test.

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Rohit replaces Kohli as India ODI skipper

With no T20Is to be played in South Africa, one expected the selectors to delay the decision until the home series against West Indies, but eventually, they took the call on Wednesday. Although the top brass of the BCCI was advocating for a change in leadership since the tour of England, the selectors seem to have consulted a few players and team management too about the road ahead. And following lengthy discussions, Kohli has been removed as ODI captain. Sourav Ganguly was the last Indian captain to be removed by the selectors, who replaced him with the current head coach Rahul Dravid in 2005.

That said, to remove a captain who enjoyed a winning percentage of 68 and was easily the stand-out performer in the format over the past decade, is no means an easy decision particularly when one considers his overall record. He won 15 of the 19 bilateral series as captain. His win-loss ratio of 2.4 is the best for any Indian captain. Kohli, though, retains full support with regards to the Test team as he prepares to lead them through a transition phase post the South Africa tour. The flipside of Kohli not being captain in ODIs could prove beneficial on his personal front, as it will help him focus fully on his batting and could spur him for a second wind.

Should Virat Kohli resign as a captain? - Quora
Credits: Wickets11

With regards to the Tests in South Africa, the selectors have named an 18-member squad, which includes Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane – two batters who have been struggling for form of late. Missing the touring contingent are Ravindra Jadeja, Shubman Gill, and Axar Patel, who are nursing injury and will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar will also miss the tour with injury.

The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, KL Rahul, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur who missed the home series against New Zealand because of rest and niggle have also been named in the Test team, which is looking for its first-ever series win on South African soil. With Jadeja out, the selectors have named only two spinners – R Ashwin and Jayant Yadav – as they felt there is no need for a third spinner for the tour.