2 years of Virat Kohli quitting Test captaincy - 3 things that have gotten worse for India

India v Australia - 4th Test: Day 4
Virat Kohli is no longer the captain, but he remains one of India's most important batters

On January 15, 2022, Virat Kohli stepped down as Team India's Test captain following their 2-1 loss at the hands of South Africa. While he stepped down from T20Is and was replaced in ODIs in the months leading up to that assignment, it was a still a surprise to see the superstar relinquish the reins.

Kohli led the country in 68 Tests, winning 40 of them. His win percentage of 58.82% is the third-highest among all captains who have led in at least 25 Tests, and he is by far the most successful skipper India have ever had in the format.

It's understandable that since losing a leader of that stature, India have not seen everything go their way. Under Rohit Sharma, the Test side has clear shortcomings in many departments that did not exist during Kohli's tenure.

Two years after Kohli stepped down, we take a look at three things that have gotten worse for the Indian Test team.

#3 Fast bowling is going through a serious transition

India's fast bowlers pictured: England v India - Second LV= Insurance Test Match: Day Five
India's fast bowlers pictured: England v India - Second LV= Insurance Test Match: Day Five

One of the hallmarks of Virat Kohli's India was the manner in which the fast bowlers won matches both home and away. This was something the side struggled with under MS Dhoni, but Kohli's aggression and style rubbed off on the pacers, who consistently came up with match-winning displays.

Jasprit Bumrah made his Test debut under Kohli. Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj were among those who played a good chunk of games with the former skipper egging them on from the slips.

Now, though, India are going through a fast-bowling transition, and there are questions over whether they have done enough to groom adequate backups. That was exposed in the recently concluded tour of South Africa, with Prasidh Krishna and Avesh Khan added to the squad but not really inspiring enough confidence to either be picked or used.

India have moved on from Umesh and Ishant, and Shami and Bumrah don't have too many years left at the top level. Ever since Kohli's decision to step down, the side's fast-bowling stocks have only gotten worse.

#2 Inexperienced and/or inconsistent batters make up the middle order

<a href='https://www.sportskeeda.com/player/cheteshwar-pujara' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Cheteshwar Pujara</a> in action: Australia v India - ICC World Test Championship Final 2023: Day Four
Cheteshwar Pujara in action: Australia v India - ICC World Test Championship Final 2023: Day Four

For most of Virat Kohli's tenure as Test captain, India had a stable batting lineup. Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane formed the backbone of the lineup, with the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and later Rishabh Pant to follow.

However, over the last two years, Pujara and Rahane's dwindling returns and Pant's injury-enforced absence have meant that the middle order hasn't looked too solid. Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and the likes have been tried out, but none of them have been too convincing across conditions.

Kohli remains as world-class as ever at No. 4, but there are plenty of questions regarding the positions around him. The younger brigade need to be given time to adjust to the demands of international red-ball cricket, but it's also safe to say that certain deserving domestic perfomers such as Sarfaraz Khan haven't been picked over the last two years.

India's middle-order weaknesses were exposed on the last tour of South Africa, and there is every chance that the team will struggle with the same during upcoming assignments as well.

#1 There is no clarity regarding India's long-term Test captain

Rohit Sharma walks back: Australia v India - ICC World Test Championship Final 2023: Day Four
Rohit Sharma walks back: Australia v India - ICC World Test Championship Final 2023: Day Four

When Kohli stepped down in early 2022, there were calls from certain quarters to replace him with a younger captain capable of overseeing proceedings for a good number of years. India appointed Rohit instead of going down that route, and they are now caught in a tricky situation.

Rohit is 36 years old and isn't the fittest on the block. Jasprit Bumrah and KL Rahul have led the side in Tests, but while the former's workload needs to be managed carefully, the latter only recently re-entered the side in a newfound middle-order role.

Rishabh Pant has been missing from action for a while now, and his comeback will need to be watched closely before any verdict can be passed on his Test future. Shreyas Iyer's place in the side is still in question away from home.

Who will be India's Test captain in the long run? The impact Kohli had with his leadership and aggression hasn't been felt since his departure, and the two-time World Test Championship finalists will know that they need to find a capable successor for Rohit.

Unfortunately, though, as things currently stand, there are no clear-cut choices. That wasn't the case immediately after the pandemic-enforced break, as India had options to turn to.

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Edited by Sai Krishna
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