ODI captaincy row, KL Rahul as future captain: Major talking points from Chetan Sharma's press conference

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Jan 01, 2022, 03:48 PM IST


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Chetan Sharma, chairman of BCCI's All-India Senior Selection Committee, attended his first press conference since taking over the post and addressed some important topics in Indian cricket after announcing the ODI squad vs the Proteas.

Team India's 18-man squad for the upcoming South Africa ODIs, in the African nation, was announced on December 31 (Friday), 2021. While the squad announcement was delayed reportedly to examine Rohit Sharma's fitness, the 18-member squad got finally revealed sans limited-overs skipper Rohit. 

Rohit has been ruled out due to hamstring injury as his deputy KL Rahul will lead the Men in Blue in the three ODIs against SA, starting on January 19 at Paarl. After the squad announcement, BCCI's All-India Senior Selection Committee's chairman and former player Chetan Sharma attended his first-ever press conference since taking over the top post.

In the PC, Sharma addressed some important topics pertaining in Indian cricket at present, i.e. the ODI captaincy row, opened up on the prospects of having KL Rahul as the future leader and more.

On KL Rahul's rise

Chetan said at the PC, "We are looking to groom KL Rahul and we have confidence in him. He has proved his leadership qualities. KL is the best one who can handle the side. He is an all-format player and he has got good experience of captaincy... this is what all selectors think."

For the unversed, Rahul has captained Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the last two IPL seasons and is touted to be Lucknow franchise's skipper in IPL 2022.

On Ganguly vs Kohli statements

The biggest issue in Indian cricket right now is the contradictory statements made by BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and former limited-overs captain Kohli post the latter's T20I captaincy resignation and sacking as ODI skipper.

While Ganguly claimed that BCCI had asked Kohli to reconsider his decision to quit as T20I captain, the 33-year-old Kohli denied all such claims in a presser before the SA tour. Hence, Chetan Sharma shared his take on the matter and said, "When meeting started, it was a surprise for everybody. If the World T20 is round the corner and you hear something like this, what will be your reaction? Everyone present in that meeting had told him that he should rethink his decision (to quit T20 captaincy) and we can talk about it after the World Cup. All selectors felt at that time that this can affect us in the World Cup. It was told to Virat for sake of Indian cricket, please continue as the captain and it was told by everybody present in the meeting. The convenors were there, board officials were there. Sabhi ne bola hai (everyone told him). Who won’t tell? If this news comes to you, you are in a shock. But since we had a World T20 to play, we never wanted it to affect team."

"He (Kohli) had his plans and we respect him. If he has taken the decision, and this is what he said in the media also, that from WTC he had been thinking about it... everyone told him to think about it and we thought let’s talk after the World Cup," added the former cricketer.

On Kohli's sacking as ODI captain

On December 8, BCCI removed Kohli as the ODI skipper, appointing Rohit as the white-ball skipper. This also led to varied responses from all corners, especially as it came only in the form of a tweet from the BCCI and wasn't followed by an official statement or presser. At his presser on December 15, Kohli had admitted that he agreed on the reason given for his sacking, however, revealed that he came to know about the decision only sometime before the official announcement was made.

In this regard, Sharma told, "It was Virat’s decision and nobody actually told him to quit the [T20I] captaincy. But once he quit T20 captaincy, obviously the selectors have to think what our decision is and obviously all selectors think it is one captain for white-ball formats, it becomes easy for selectors to plan things. We informed him regarding this. The 50 overs decision was the selectors’ and T20 captaincy was his decision."

He further asserted, "As soon as selection committee came to the point and discussed it, I immediately called up Virat that afternoon. There was a Test selection coming up. We didn’t want to inform in that selection meeting and that’s why I called him when our meeting was over. And this is what selectors think and there will be one white-ball captain, there were a couple of questions and we had good conversations. He (Kohli) agreed on that. What we discuss I can’t disclose it here and we had a good chat. Most important thing is, Virat is a very important part of Indian cricket. We want him to play for India and keep getting runs, because the team revolves around it."

"When it comes to planning, our thought process was we need one white-ball captain and one red-ball captain. He came at (Test selection) meeting around 5:30 pm and we had informed him before that. It was hard decision for us and we have to take some hard decisions, that’s what we are here for. Same for selection of playing XI. Sometimes those are need of the hour. He is going to be a very important for years to come," the 55-year old added.

Chetan Sharma signed off by saying, "The main goal for everybody is the same: to keep India on top. We don’t want controversies. That is the reason we don’t come out. Our job is to select the team, make sure the best guy goes and plays for the country. When these controversies happen, it makes us sad as cricketers. I was joking that Ajaz [Patel] has been dropped by New Zealand after taking ten wickets. Imagine if we had done something similar, what would have happened to us," he said.

At present, India is involved in a three-match Test series versus South Africa, in the rainbow nation. The Kohli-led Test side won the series opener, at Centurion, by 113 runs and are on the cusp of winning their first-ever Test series in the African nation if they win at least one of the remaining two Tests. 

The Tests will be followed by three ODIs, which will give Rahul the chance to lead India for the first time in a full series.