Virat Kohli vs BCCI: Is there any real winner in this tussle?

Written By: Aditya Sahay WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Jan 22, 2022, 01:19 PM(IST)

Virat Kohli vs BCCI: There's no real winner in this tussle! Photograph:( AFP )

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It is evident that all is not well between Virat Kohli and the BCCI. In this tussle, there surely isn't any winner but plenty to lose for Indian cricket.

A lot has transpired in Indian cricket, especially in the senior men's team in the last four months. In mid-September 2021, Virat Kohli dropped a bomb on social media by announcing his resignation as the T20I captain post the World Cup, in the UAE.

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After India's colossal failure in the showpiece event, a lot of changes were expected. However, none of the connoisseurs of the game would have foreseen the plethora of changes that came into picture since then. 

While Rohit Sharma succeeded Kohli as the T20I captain, being rewarded for his envious record as IPL captain, the latter remained the ODI and Test captain (he himself wanted to carry on as skipper in the longer formats as per his T20I captaincy resignation tweet). Nonetheless, a twist in the tale unfolded just before India boarded the flight for the ongoing South Africa trip. 

Last year on December 8, BCCI announced Rohit as the limited-overs captain altogether, sacking Kohli from the top job in the 50-over format. The announcement was made courtesy a two-line Twitter post from the board's official handle:

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A thank you post for outgoing captain Kohli followed a day later, i.e. on December 9. 

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The lack of prior communication -- in terms of a proper official statement by the BCCI -- and the late Twitter post irked many Indian cricket fans, who remained baffled with the sudden turn of events. What was cooking? 

All eyes, thus, shifted to BCCI's customary press conference before Team India's departure for the rainbow nation. On December 15, Kohli spearheaded the presser and dropped few more bombs with his answers in an affirmative tone. 

While BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly had already conveyed that the board officials and national selectors had requested Kohli to remain the T20I captain, the star Indian batter contradicted from the claims. "I had told BCCI that I want to quit T20I captaincy. I wasn't told to reconsider it. It was received well, without any hesitation; I was told it's a progressive step and it's in the right direction. I had told them that I want to continue ODI and Test captaincy unless the office bearers think otherwise. I had given that option to them," Kohli had stated.

ALSO READ | BCCI President Ganguly wanted to issue showcause notice to Kohli following his explosive presser - Report

In addition, Kohli made it clear that he had no prior communication with the national selectors regarding the ODI captaincy switch. He revealed that he came to know about the decision only 90 minutes prior to the official announcement. 

Thus, this opened a pandora of box. Kohli's explosive presser exposed the dire straits between the board, selectors and the superstar cricketer.

In response to the presser, Ganguly made it clear that the board will not make any official statement due to ongoing SA tour. "No statements, no press conference. We will deal with it, leave it to (the) BCCI," Ganguly told local mediapersons after the presser.

Nonetheless, chief selector Chetan Sharma made heads turn, stating that Kohli was asked by officials and selectors to remain T20I captain.  "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 wonโ€™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," the former India pacer told on December 31.

ALSO READ | 'One match makes...': Virat Kohli turned down BCCI's offer to play farewell Test as captain - Report

When the Indian cricket fans were busy trying to make sense of the mysterious turn of events, Kohli dropped another bomb -- probably throwing his last roll of the dice -- by announcing his resignation as the Test captain post India's 2-1 series loss to SA in the African nation. 

On January 15, Kohli tweeted saying, "Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, itโ€™s now. Itโ€™s been 7 years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance every day to take the team in the right direction. Iโ€™ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there. Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test Captain of India, itโ€™s now."

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Following Kohli's resignation, ending his Team India captaincy tenure altogether, many reactions came in a flash. Needless to say, Ganguly's response was most awaited. Few hours after Kohli's announcement, Ganguly wrote, "Under Virat's leadership Indian cricket has made rapid strides in all formats of the game... his decision is a personal one and bcci respects it immensely... he will be an important member to take this team to newer heights in the future. A great player. well done... @BCCI @imVkohli."

A battle with no winner but plenty of losers!

So far, there is total chaos surrounding Indian cricket. It reminds the 90s fans of the infamous Greg Chappell-era. 

As an Indian cricket loyalist, the cracks became evident on the day BCCI made the ODI captaincy switch. The lack of communication and late tribute for Kohli -- yes, even a timely Twitter post for some big announcements means a lot in the social media-era -- triggered the collapse. 

Ganguly statement prior to Kohli's presser was entirely uncalled for (similarly, the latter's T20I captaincy resignation announcement can also be termed 'untimely'; i.e. a month before the World Cup). Being the BCCI chief, he could've shifted the query towards the national selectors. After all, it was their unanimous choice to sack Kohli and have one white-ball captain.

Former India cricketer and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar had lashed out at the BCCI chief and told Khaleej Times, "Itโ€™s very unfortunate, the whole thing. I think it should have been handled more professionally by the cricket board. The thing is that Ganguly had no business to speak on behalf of the selection committee. Ganguly is the president of BCCI. Any issue about selection or captaincy, itโ€™s the chairman of the selection committee who should speak."

ALSO READ | Virat had no pressure from the board, selectors: BCCI treasurer reacts to Kohli leaving Test captaincy

Further, Kohli's presser fanned the fire. Chetan Sharma's statements led to more questions than answers. The 33-year-old Kohli's Test resignation -- a format where he excelled as captain -- raised more eyebrows; acting as a confirmation to many Indian cricket fans that the superstar batter chose to side away from all the negativity and war of words. 

In the ongoing India-SA ODIs, Kohli has scores of 51 and 0 so far. While he didn't dominate entirely in the first outing, he fell for a five-ball duck in the second and penultimate ODI. Fans are already concerned that the BCCI row has taken a lot out of Kohli, who has clearly lacked intensity on the field. 

It is NOT looking good

Irrespective of how things have unfolded, Kohli's presence, intensity and contribution remain of utmost importance to Team India across formats.

Thus, one wishes that the tug of war between Kohli and BCCI is over. For now, it is taking a lot out of a talismanic batter and also putting BCCI under the scanner. For the unversed, on Thursday (January 20), reports suggested that Ganguly prevented issuing a show cause notice to Kohli for his explosive presser. A source close to the development was quoted as saying by India Ahead News, "And the board president was all for issuing a show cause notice to Kohli." Hence, the writing is clearly on the wall as the recipe being cooked is surely nothing less than a disaster. 

If all this continues, India will lose many battles even before taking on oppositions on the field. People following the India-SA series have already concluded that the national side is looking clueless with each passing game in the African nation.

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