India captain Virat Kohli is once under scrutiny after the country lost in the World Test Championship final to New Zealand in Southampton in June.
This has brought us back to the question that the cricket fraternity was wondering a few months ago: Is it time for the BCCI to promote Rohit Sharma as the Indian skipper?
Stats back Rohit Sharma when it comes to his captaincy in franchise cricket. The Hitman has anchored Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles, having won 70 of 121 games.
At times, it feels like Kohli the batsman is what India needs instead of Kohli the captain. While he has been consistently amassing runs for his country, Kohli is yet to win India a world title since taking over the captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Perhaps, letting Sharma take over the shortest format of the game for India will let Kohli ease up on the responsibility.
This isn’t the first time experts have called for another Indian player to succeed Kohli in one format of the game.
Shane Lee’s take on Virat Kohli
Ajinkya Rahane was India’s hero not long ago in Australia when he turned the tide around for the visitors to make history on foreign soil.
After an Adelaide debacle that drew criticism to a young Indian side, Rahane let his leadership skills do the talking.
This was a crucial time for the talisman to deliver the goods since Kohli, the backbone of India’s batting and the skipper had returned to India for the birth of his daughter.
It was up to Rahane to cement a case for his captaincy and he did it in style. Courtesy to Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Mohammad Siraj and Rahane, India made it 2-1 at the end of the series.
Not to forget that the visitors thumped the Kangaroos at Gabba, something no other Test-playing nation could do in the last 33 years.
India’s victory in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy compelled former Australian cricketer to point out the differences between Rahane and Kohli.
Lee claimed that the Indian team looked relaxed, calm, and confident playing under their stand-in skipper Rahane, which is something you don’t often see when Kohli is in charge.
“Kohli is one of the greatest batsmen of all time. But I just feel that he is almost revered by the players within the team. They’re almost scared to put a foot out of line,” Lee said on the ‘Afternoon Sport’ podcast.
“He demanded absolute professionalism from the Indian team. The players had to be fit, they had to great in the field and good catching, but they almost appear a bit scared. I just see a really relaxed team under Rahane.”
Nevertheless, Kohli, who became India’s Test skipper in 2014, is now the most successful Indian captain in the longest format, having won 36 games as captain.
‘People only remember those who win tournaments’
Lee is not the only one who has scrutinized the batting maestro for his captaincy.
After India lost to NZ in the WTC final, a former Pakistan skipper was also dubious of the Chase Master’s leadership skills.
In a video Salman Butt posted on his YouTube channel, he said: “You can be a very good captain but if you don’t win any title, masses won’t remember you. Maybe you are a good captain and have good plans but your bowler may not be able to execute it. So luck has to be on your side as well. People only remember those who win tournaments.”
When it comes down to the legacy of a skipper, Butt’s remarks make sense.
At the end of the day, the reason MS Dhoni is regarded as one of the most successful captains in the sport’s history is that he won India three major titles (Champions Trophy and 2 World Cups).
In order to cement his case as a top leader, Kohli needs to step up as the captain and deliver the good just like he has been with the bat for over a decade.
He has the BCCI’s backing and that will boost his confidence walking into any contest.