Express press service
CHENNAI: The biggest development was buried at the bottom of the BCCI press release announcing the test squad for the South Africa tour. For the first time since 2005, the BCCI Senior Selection Committee removed a starter as ODI captain.
Ever since Virat Kohli relinquished his T20 captaincy citing workload, there was every indication he would lose the ODI role as well and the selectors, with the full backing of BCCI, made the bold decision on Wednesday .
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Going forward, Kohli will remain captain only of the Test team and Rohit Sharma will lead the white ball cricket team, apart from being the vice-captain in the long format.
The decision itself is unsurprising, as teams rarely have two different captains for white-ball cricket. Moreover, it is reliably learned that when Rohit accepted the captaincy of T20, he did so on the precondition that he could lead the ODIs as well.
However, throughout this period, Kohli reportedly had no intention of stepping down as ODI captain. After relinquishing the captaincy of the T20 citing workload and following it by resigning as captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kohli believed those factors would remain stable to lead the team in ODIs and Tests.
With no T20I to play in South Africa, the selectors were expected to delay the decision until the home series against West Indies, but ultimately took the call on Wednesday. Although the top brass at BCCI have been advocating for a managerial change since the England tour, the selectors appear to have consulted with a few players and team management as well on the way forward.
And after lengthy talks, Kohli was relieved of his duties as ODI captain. Sourav Ganguly was the last India captain to be sacked by coaches, who replaced him with current head coach Rahul Dravid in 2005.
That said, removing a captain who has enjoyed a 68 winning percentage and easily stood out in the format over the past decade is not an easy decision, especially considering his overall record. . He won 15 of 19 bilateral series as captain. His win-loss ratio of 2.4 is the best for any Indian captain.
Kohli, however, retains his full support when it comes to the Test squad as he prepares to lead them through a transition phase after the South Africa tour. The flip side of Kohli not being a captain in the ODIs could prove beneficial on his personal front as it will help him focus fully on his stick and could spur him on for a second wind.
As for the South Africa Tests, the selectors named an 18-member squad, which includes Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane – two hitters who have struggled for form of late. The touring contingent are missing Ravindra Jadeja, Shubman Gill and Axar Patel, who are nursing an injury and will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar will also miss the tour due to injury.
The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, KL Rahul, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur who missed the home series against New Zealand due to rest and worries were also named in the test squad, which is looking for its very first series victory on South African soil. With Jadeja absent, the selectors named only two spinners – R Ashwin and Jayant Yadav – as they felt there was no need for a third spinner for the tour.
Team: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma , Mohd.Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md.Siraj.
Waiting players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.