VIRAT Kohli.—AFP
VIRAT Kohli.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Virat Kohli will step down as captain of the Indian Twenty20 side after the upcoming World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, the star batsman said on Thursday.

Kohli, the team’s batting mainstay, cited the need to balance his workload as he vacated the role which is likely to go to his deputy Rohit Sharma.

“Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three 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,” 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, Champions Trophy or T20 World Cup, while his Royal Challengers Bangalore team continue to chase their maiden Indian Premier League title.

Sharma is IPL’s most successful captain, having led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles. The T20 tournament resumes Sunday in the UAE after a four-month pandemic suspension.

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 has a 27-14 win-loss ratio as India’s Twenty20 captain and vice-president of the Indian cricket board Rajeev Shukla said the player made an “immense” contribution as leader of the Twenty20 squad.

“This is his personal decision and we respect it,” tweeted Shukla.

Inaugural champions India will begin their bid for a second Twenty20 World Cup title with a blockbuster October 24 clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai.

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.

He will have Dhoni as a mentor of the national side in his first and last outing as captain in the T20 World Cup.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021

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