Monday, May 23, 2022 | Shawwal 21, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

The Hitman Era truly begins

BCCI cracks the Kohli whip

All great things come to and end is an age-old cliche but in the case of Indian cricket it took a while, but it's finally here.


The Virat Kohli era in the Indian white-ball formats is well and truly over after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) 'decided', the word used in the official BCCI release, to select Rohit Sharma as India's new ODI captain.


“The All-India Senior Selection Committee also decided to name Mr Rohit Sharma as the Captain of the ODI & T20I teams going forward”. This was the BCCI statement regarding the elevation of Rohit and demotion of Kohli.


It was a telling reminder of how far the relationship between Kohli, the biggest name in Indian cricket and one of its all-time greats, and the world's richest cricket board had come.


The once all-powerful Kohli has been a highly successful Indian captain across formats having captained India in 95 matches with 65 wins, 27 losses with a win percentage of 70%.


That is a higher win percentage as compared to that of former Indian captains MS Dhoni (59.52) and Sourav Ganguly (53.52). However, it is not Kohli's overall captaincy record that has come under the scanner but the lack of global trophies, namely the much coveted ICC trophies, where the Indian team has come up a cropper.


Under Kohli's tenure, the Indian team reached the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy losing to arch-rivals Pakistan in the summit clash. The Kohli-led side fell short in the 2019 ODI World Cup losing to New Zealand in the semifinal and recently got knocked out in the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup 2021.


Add to that the lack of big runs that Kohli is famously known for in the last few years. The Delhi lad's last of his 43 ODI hundreds came against the West Indies in Port of Spain on August 14th, 2019.


As the hundreds dried up and match-winning knocks got fewer, the pressure started to pile up.


MAN IN WAITING


The Hitman of Indian cricket has been a super successful captain in the Indian Premier League having won the much-coveted trophy a whopping five times.


With his calm and unflappable demeanor, the stylish Mumbai batsman has been long seen as the ideal candidate to replace the emotionally charged Kohli.


Kohli's handling of Ravichandran Ashwin over the years and his detached persona off the cricket field and among the team-mates have regularly made it to the sports pages of Indian media.


Rohit fits into that spot like duck to water as he, as claimed by team-mates in recent media reports, is always the man who puts a hand around the shoulder of a struggling team-mate.


The new Indian limited-overs captain is also known to take team-mates out for dinners if they've had off days as revealed by a player recently. What it probably indicates quite presumably is the man-management skills of Rohit, apart from his unemotional way of reacting to situations.


The very skill essential for any Indian captain to succeed at the helm of affairs.


BCCI CALLS THE SHOTS


This is also the board making a statement to the player about who calls the shots in Indian cricket. The relationship between the board and players in Indian cricket has always been a mixed one.


From the days of powerful presidents like Jagmohan Dalmiya, AC Muthiah and N Srinivasan to the time when Kohli took over when the Committee of Administrators (CoA) was in charge.


The presence of the CoA allowed Kohli to dictate terms with him at the peak of his powers on the field and off the field, considering the huge brand value.


It was an Imran Khan like scenario in Indian cricket, albeit one the country's cricket administrators were not used to. The exit of former coach Anil Kumble after a spat with Kohli being a case in point indicating how powerful and influential a captain he had become.


Now, with Kohli's fortunes on the wane in terms of captain and also a dip in form as a player, the BCCI has used an opportune time to crack the whip in the best interests of Indian cricket.


With the next two years presenting three major ICC trophies to be grabbed, the 2022 T20 World Cup, 2023 ODI World Cup and the 2023 World Test Championship, it is highly imperative that Indian cricket gets its house in order.


The freed up Kohli could well become a batting beast that he is known to be and with skipper Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid's stewardship, we could well see Indian cricket reach a new pinnacle.


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