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Cricket

Ravi Shastri Had Suggested To Virat Kohli To Give Up All White Ball Captaincy

Kohli only opted to relinquish from T20 leadership and ignored Shastri’s advice of also leaving the ODI captaincy.

New Delhi: Months before Virat Kohli had the formally announced that he was stepping down as skipper of India’s T20 team, head coach Ravi Shastri had suggested to him to quit white ball captaincy altogether – which includes ODIs – and to focus on his batting while continuing to lead India in Test cricket, sources told India Ahead on Wednesday.

The suggestion wasn’t meant to belittle Kohli but to inspire him to continue as a top batsman in world cricket. However, Kohli only opted to relinquish from T20 leadership and ignored Shastri’s advice of also leaving the ODI captaincy.

Sources said that all the talk about Kohli’s captaincy started after India won the Australian series without their regular captain. It also indicates that Kohli may have to let go the ODI captaincy at some point before the 2023 if things don’t go as planned. “If Kohli was that bad a captain, India wouldn’t have stayed as No. 1 team in the world. It’s just that he didn’t win an ICC Trophy, which can happen anytime soon,” a  BCCI insider said while adding that Kohli still must be nourishing the dream to lead India in the 2023 World Cup at home. 

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It is learnt that Shastri gave the suggestion to quit white ball captaincy to Kohli after the Australian series. “Shastri had spoken to Kohli around six months ago. But Kohli didn’t listen to Shastri. He is still keen to lead India in ODIs and that is why he only decided to let go the T20 captaincy. Even the board was discussing it as to how Kohli could be utilised more as a batsman. That is because he has a lot left as a player even now,” the source added.

The source also dismissed talks of a disagreement within the team surrounding Kohli’s leadership. There are a few odd team selection decision that could be debated but the fact that the team did well in all formats under Kohli puts him in a better position. “At this stage, it isn’t about choosing a better leader for India,  it is about choosing the person who can make this team better with his performances. It is going in that direction,” the source said.

Way back in 2005, then India coach Greg Chappell had suggested to then captain Sourav Ganguly to quit captaincy to concentrate on his batting – that snowballed into a huge controversy. However, the relation between Shastri and Kohli is completely opposite compared to the rapport Ganguly had with Chappell. 

India Ahead was first to report on how Kohli needs to reboot himself and let go all the burdens to relaunch himself as 2.0. – something like Sachin Tendulkar did in the previous decade. The Mumbai maestro even let go his captaincy and allowed all his aggression as a batsman to take the back set for longevity. In the end, Sachin played for India for 24 years while Kohli is still going strong on 14!