Coach Ravi Shastri (L) with Indian captain Virat Kohli (R). Photograph:( AFP )
Former Indian head coach Ravi Shastri recently said that Virat Kohli had the character, game and personality to step into his predecessor MS Dhoni's shoes.
Indian cricket has seen rapid changes being made in the senior men's team following the T20 World Cup edition, in the UAE. Ravi Shastri's tenure as head coach ended as Rahul Dravid replaced him from the top post. While Virat Kohli had already announced his resignation as T20I captain post the World Cup, Rohit not only replaced him in the shortest format but BCCI also named Hitman as the ODI skipper on Wednesday (December 8). Hence, Team India is slowly and steadily settling into the Dravid-Rohit era.
Recently, former coach Ravi Shastri stated that he felt Kohli had the character, game and personality to step into MS Dhoni's shoes as the Indian captain. Shastri worked closely with Kohli after serving as Team India's director from 2014-16. In mid-2017, the former Indian all-rounder succeeded Anil Kumble to become the head coach and former a strong pair with Captain Kohli across formats till the 2021 T20 WC.
"Barring interviews on television (with players), I knew nobody (joining as team director in 2014) except probably MS Dhoni because I had worked with him in 2007. There was nobody from my generation, there was nobody from the immediate generation after me. For instance, I had a connect with players of the previous decade - Sachin, Rahul, Sourav, Anil. That generation was gone. So, once I came on board, my first challenge was to identify someone who could walk the talk and I found in Virat Kohli the guy with the character, game and personality to step into Dhoni's shoes," Shastri said in an interview with the Times of India.
He further asserted, "Virat was reeling from that tour of England (where he amassed 134 runs in 5 Tests in England) because he hardly got runs. He was in a state of shock the way things had panned out. But you could see there was still enough there to get him going. Once he was back on his feet, there would be no looking back.
"I began watching him very closely. The more closely I saw him, I could see his sense of confidence returning back with each day. Those initial two-three months went in getting to know the team better. We began talking a lot, on various issues - batting techniques, the path forward, lot of things. And I think, it really came to the surface in Australia, when he finally bought into everything we discussed. He was absolutely ready to walk that talk - not just in the way he played his game but the way we wanted the team to play."
Kohli-Shastri formed a deadly captain-coach pair for Team India. Under the duo, India won Test series in Australia (twice), earned an unassailable 2-1 lead in the England Tests in the United Kingdom early this year, won bilateral ODI series in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, won T20I series in SENA countries, played the semi-finals of the 2019 ODI World Cup and ended as the runners-up of the inaugural WTC. Nonetheless, they couldn't take India to an ICC title during their partnership.
Now, the onus is on Dravid-Rohit to take India to greater heights in limited-overs. However, Kohli remains the Test captain and will look to lead India to their first-ever series win on South African soil in the upcoming tour of the African nation, starting from December 26.