MUMBAI: India’s red-ball captain Virat Kohli will not play the One-day International series in South Africa while white-ball captain Rohit Sharma will be unavailable for the Test series. Kohli is the Test captain and Rohit is India’s newly-appointed white-ball skipper. Their being unavailable for the respective formats has nothing to do with the ongoing controversy related to the Team India white-ball captaincy changing hands.
Kohli had informed the Indian cricket board (BCCI) in advance that he would take a break in early January. Since the ODI series coincides with the first birthday of his daughter, Kohli had communicated that he could not participate in the One-day series.
Sharma, meanwhile, has been ruled out because of a hamstring injury. Luckily, the injury is not a tear and therefore the opener is expected to be available in three weeks’ time to lead the white-ball team.
On Sunday, Sharma went through a nets session and suffered a minor hand injury when a rising delivery in the nets struck him on the gloves. The batsman was in pain but recovered quickly. It is not this hand injury that has put him out of the Tests against South Africa.
The developments, while merely coincidental, are bound to lead to rumours and innuendos about personal relationships between two of the biggest cricketers on the global stage.
NEWS – Priyank Panchal replaces injured Rohit Sharma in India’s Test squad.Rohit sustained a left hamstring injur… https://t.co/lV0AKZlk1A
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1639402626000
Close to three months after Kohli stepped down from the T20I captaincy, the BCCI announced through a very curt press statement that Sharma would be replacing him as the white-ball skipper (ODIs and T20Is). The next day, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly sent out a statement saying he had “personally spoken with Kohli” and so had the selectors. Ganguly disclosed that the board had asked the 33-year-old not to resign from the T20 captaincy.
Kohli hasn’t responded to either BCCI’s decision or Ganguly’s statement yet. However, TOI can confirm that the former India white-ball captain “understands” the reasons why BCCI took the call.
TOI had first broken the story of Kohli wanting to quit white-ball captaincy on September 13. On September 16, by way of a social media statement, Kohli resigned as India’s T20 captain but went on to add that he would continue remaining the Test and ODI captain of the team. BCCI sources had at that time confirmed that there was no chance of the white-ball captaincy being split and it was only a matter of time before the ODI captaincy would be handed over to Sharma.
Both Kohli and Sharma have been in focus over the last four years for being the two proverbial ‘alpha males’ in the Team India dressing room who time and again allegedly found it difficult to get along with each other.
However, under Ravi Shastri as head coach, the two cricketers went about their professional responsibilities and their personal relations too remained amiable. Now, managing these two star cricketers will be new head coach Rahul Dravid‘s biggest task.
“Over the years, the Indian dressing room has been fraught with egos. Be it Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag or Gautam Gambhir. But that doesn’t mean that it has boiled over to what they go and do out there on the field. They’re professionals and are required to behave in a certain fashion at all times,” say those tracking these two individuals closely.
The two individuals are now likely to play together only once the team returns home from South Africa.
Meanwhile, all speculation surrounding Kohli wanting to quit the white-ball formats is just that, speculation.