Unravelling the infamous Kohli-Kumble saga
It's been more than a year since the split between Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli. Despite plenty of success, the relationship fell apart and it ended with the former resigning from the role of India coach.
While it is known that things went south between the coach and the captain over a period of time, it is impossible to pinpoint an exact date when it reached a tipping point. This question can be answered by only two people- Kumble and Kohli, but both have chosen to maintain a dignified silence.
The flashpoint, however, was reached at Vizag Test match in November 2016. There had already been a case of difference of opinion between the two at Rajkot in the previous Test, which England had dominated before it ended in a draw. India was the team under pressure going into Vizag and there was also talk of England repeating the success of 2012.
While a senior BCCI official tells that it was over a selection matter that the two had a disagreement, others say it was Kumble's habit of repeatedly sending out instructions to the captain on the field that resulted in initial trouble.
The moot point here, however, is that there were two alpha males in the dressing room, each of whom had achieved a lot in their cricketing careers, and with neither wanting to back down, things reached a deadlock.
It was only when Kumble mentioned an extension of his contract that the CoA suspected something amiss. That's when it was decided that Kohli would be consulted and his opinion sought.
Kohli when consulted decided to spill the beans. While he conducted himself with the utmost dignity, it was learnt that he did make the point that juniors were finding it difficult to express themselves and that the situation was rapidly escalating.
The media, which was all in Kohli's favour, all of a sudden started questioning the Indian captain and his conduct. He was subsequently perceived as the big bully and the man who had let success get to his head.
In the Kohli vs Kumble tussle, Kohli, it is said to be the softer target of attack. This was more so after India lost the Champions Trophy final to Pakistan with Kohli making little with the bat despite basically carrying the team to the final single-handedly. The social media outrage on 20 June, calling Kohli selfish, brash and egotistic, was proof which side the wind was blowing.
It was assumed that he had mistreated Kumble and he was the one who was trying to bully one of India's greatest ever match-winners. Kohli was like a young boxer thrown into the ring with his hands tied.
It may well be that in the Kohli-Kumble tussle, neither was wrong. Two different human beings with two different philosophies may not agree with each other. And over a period of time, such a relationship can become untenable.
Whoever the coach is, it is Kohli who will have to face up to Anderson and Broad and Starc and Cummins. It is his bat that will have to save games and set totals for his bowlers to defend. He is in the hot seat for good and bad.
In the end, on 20 June 2017, Kumble's seemingly tumultuous reign as India's coach came to an end. And in a matter of days, the interest shifted to the succession saga and India have since won a couple of trophies as well.