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Opinion: Removing Virat Kohli as the captain of the Indian cricket team will be a wrong call

ANALYST
Feature
16.03K   //    Timeless

Virat Kohli during the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Virat Kohli during the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

When they say, Virat Kohli wears his heart on his sleeve, they are not wrong. Every little twitch of emotion, every flickering of ecstasy, every pang of agony can be perceived on the India captain's visage. During the recently-concluded World Cup in England and Wales, it was no different. Virat was a veritable smorgasbord of emotions during India's journey to the semi-finals, before a shock loss to the gallant Kiwis ended a triumphant march.

Now, true to Indian cricket's emotional excesses, there are calls for his head as the captain, especially in the limited-overs' format. This mumbling chorus is gaining in volume as India's tour of the West Indies approaches, especially with news breaking that Kohli and a couple of other seniors will be rested for the T20Is and ODIs in the Caribbean.

But removing Kohli as the captain will be a classic knee-jerk reaction that the selectors will do well to avoid. We will take a look at why that is the case in detail below.

India's World Cup campaign wasn't a failure

Yes, you read that right. India were the best team in the protracted league phase by far; their only reverse came in a tough loss to eventual champions England, and there too the team scored more than 300 and were in the chase for long stretches. They finished top of the pile and dominated most of their opponents.

Crushing victories over Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka proved India were the most complete side in the tournament before New Zealand delivered a body blow with some astute pace bowling during the semi-final that effectively killed off India's challenge.

Even in that loss, India dominated for long stretches and nearly pulled off a great comeback thanks to some heroic backs-to-the-wall counter-attack by Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni.

Yes, the goal was to lift the Cup and India were one of the strongest contenders but going out in the semi-finals cannot be considered a failure (unless you are Brazil in the football World Cup and you lose 1-7 to Germany at home!). There were many more positives than negatives that India can take away from the tournament. It is time that the burden of expectations on the Men in Blue doesn't reach Sisyphean proportions (reality check: it already has, decades ago), it is time we let them breathe a bit.

Virat Kohli is a successful ODI captain

When India trounced South Africa in their World Cup opener, captain Kohli became the fastest skipper from the subcontinent to register 50 victories and the third-fastest overall. He has a win percentage of almost 74 as skipper and has matured as a captain in a variety of ways.

He leads with passion but also planning nowadays. He is the best batsman in the world and on the cusp of becoming the GOAT but has moulded his batting style to suit the team's purpose. He has built a young, dexterous team that fields brilliantly, has batsmen of the class of Rohit Sharma and a top pace attack led by the likes of Jasprit Bumrah. He should be given more time to work on this project and fine-tune it.

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Issues that need to be ironed out

Team selection for the World Cup was contentious, some of the names like Vijay Shankar evoked a lot of controversy and the Ravi Shastri-Kohli duo should take some stick for the same, despite it being the selectors' call. The middle-order was India's soft underbelly in the Cup and India paid a price for it. Clearly, India need dynamic, new batsmen to come up the ranks and there are a lot of them to choose from.

But vision 2023 should still feature Kohli as the skipper. Unless he messes up royally in the interim, it will be a bit ludicrous to get rid of him as the skipper now. At 34 year of age during the next World Cup, he might be at the peak of his discretionary powers and batting skills. Also, we have a T20 World Cup coming up next year and a change in leadership can be unsettling at this juncture. Let Rohit Sharma wait in the wings for now.

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