AFP/ New Delhi
Star batsman Virat Kohli announced yesterday that he will give up the India Twenty20 captaincy after the World Cup that starts next month.
“Understanding workload is a very important thing... I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI Cricket,” said Kohli, whose leadership has been the subject of mounting speculation in recent months.
“I’ve decided to step down as the T20 captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October,” he added in a Twitter post.
The 32-year-old, who became limited-overs captain after M.S. Dhoni stepped aside in 2017, has faced pressure over his failure to win India either the World Cup or the Champions Trophy.
But Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), had backed Kohli this week to continue.
“I have given everything to the team during my time as T20 captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 team as a batsman moving forward,” said Kohli.
“Of course, arriving at the decision took a lot of time,” he explained, adding that he had consulted with India coach Ravi Shastri and opening batsman Rohit Sharma.
He also said he had informed Shah, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and the national selectors of his decision.
BCCI said Kohli “will continue to be available for selection for the T20 format post the upcoming ICC (International Cricket Council) event”.
“Virat has been a true asset for Indian Cricket and has led with aplomb,” Ganguly said of the flamboyant captain.
“He is one of the most successful captains in all the formats. The decision has been made keeping in mind the future roadmap.”
Kohli is set to lead his Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore in the T20 tournament which resumes Sunday in the United Arab Emirates after a four-month pandemic suspension.
The T20 World Cup will begin two days after the IPL ends on October 15 in the UAE and Oman with the final scheduled on November 14.
Indian media reported that Sharma could take over as limited-overs captain.
Sharma, a swashbuckling opener, has led IPL holders Mumbai Indians to a record five titles while Kohli’s Bangalore are still searching for their maiden crown.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes the change in the T20 leadership won’t affect a “settled” Indian team.
“It won’t have much of an impact on Team India,” Gavaskar said on Indian TV channel ‘Aaj Tak’.
“Now it’s widely reported that Rohit will become the T20 captain due to his IPL record. It is a settled group and will take little time for the players, who have been around for a while, to adjust to the change.”
Kohli, a prolific top-order batsman, led India to the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy and the semi-final of the 2019 50-over World Cup.
Kohli captained India in a total of 45 T20 matches with 27 wins, 14 losses and two tied games.
As captain, he scored 1,502 runs including 12 half-centuries at an average of 48.45 and a strike rate of 143.18.
Kohli will have Dhoni as a mentor of the national side in his first and last outing as captain in the T20 World Cup.
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