Virat Kohli Has Left The Building! Team India’s Most Successful Test Captain Bows Out

Virat Kohli is an enigma. You may love him or hate him, but you can’t ignore him. Indian cricket has had legends and greats in its 80-year history, but Virat Kohli is one of his kind – there may never be another one ever. India’s most successful Test captain gave up the coveted position on Saturday, a day after his team failed to win the Test series in South Africa. The series was tagged as India’s best chance to conquer the final frontier, South Africa, where they have never won before.


Captaining the Test team is a privilege that some of the biggest names in Indian cricket have had. CK Nayudu was India’s first Test captain in 1932. The team won its first-ever Test match under Lala Amarnath. Mansoor Ali Khan (Tiger) Pataudi led India to its first overseas Test match and series victories. Since the beginning of this century, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni made India a force to reckon with not just on turning pitches at home, but on bouncy and seaming strips abroad.

Kohli, however, raised the bar to a level that no previous Indian captain has. In 68 Tests as skipper since 2015, Virat Kohli achieved a win percentage of 58.82, only behind Australia’s Steve Waugh (71.92%) and Ricky Ponting (62.33%). No other international captain, who has led in more than 25 Tests, has a better win percentage. India won 40 Tests with Virat Kohli at helm, lost 17 and drew 11.

The team also won 16 Tests abroad under Virat Kohli, the most for an Indian captain.

While records speak for themselves, it was his attitude as captain that ensured this success. With Kohli, it was never just about strategy, tactics and game plan; it was also the mind games – something Ganguly did well, too, during his time as skipper. Kohli got under the skin of the opposition with his aggression; he sledged first instead of waiting to respond; his exaggerated celebrations after every wicket pumped up the team; and he never shied away from speaking his mind.


It is this last trait that may have forced Kohli to make the decision he has on Saturday. Last September, as the Indian team was preparing for the T20 World Cup, Virat Kohli made a surprise announcement that he would step down as the T20 captain after the tournament. He cited workload as the prime reason for quitting while stating he would continue as the Test and ODI captain. “Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all 3 formats and captaining regularly for last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI Cricket,” Virat Kohli said in a statement then.

A couple of months later, in December, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) stripped Virat Kohli of the ODI captaincy, naming Rohit Sharma as India’s limited-overs (ODIs and T20Is) skipper. The decision was followed by BCCI president Ganguly saying he had asked Kohli to not step down as T20 captain. But, on the eve of leaving for South Africa, Kohli contradicted Ganguly, saying his decision to quit was “received well and termed as progressive” by BCCI. He added that he was told about his removal as ODI captain just a few hours before the decision was announced.

While the entire issue was put to rest – or brushed under the carpet – as the team left to play the Test series, it is only now that we have likely seen the final chapter in the saga.

This isn’t the first series that an Indian captain, including Kohli, has lost abroad and it won’t be the last. So to attribute the loss in South Africa to Kohli’s decision to quit as Test captain would only be naïve.


This writer, in his piece – Virat Kohli Survives Axe From Tests As Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara Face The Heat? – before the series began in South Africa had made a reference to how Kohli may have to give up his captaincy. “…Not many captains have taken on the all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and survived. Virat Kohli took the board and its chief, former India captain Sourav Ganguly, head-on. There are bound to be repercussions. Irrespective of the South Africa series result, Virat Kohli may end up losing the Test captaincy…”


While Virat Kohli has given up the top job in Indian cricket, he will continue to play for the country in all three formats. Rohit Sharma seems to be the frontrunner for taking over the Test captaincy, too, with former vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane likely to lose his place owing to poor form and KL Rahul uncertain of his spot in the playing 11.

How Rohit Sharma carries forward the winning momentum of this Indian team will be there for everyone to see, but what cricket fans across the world will definitely miss are those Virat Kohli moments of aggression and wild celebrations.

The runs, however, will continue to flow. Captain Kohli has left the building, but King Kohli stays on!

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