‘Beyond the Ground, Virat Kohli is Literally Incommunicado; Rohit Sharma Has Shades of MSD’

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With Rohit Sharma set to take over the T20I captaincy from Virat Kohli post the T20 World Cup, the dynamics of Indian cricket seem to be shifting. Kohli has been at the helm of affairs in Indian cricket for a while now in an undisputed manner even though skipper Virat Kohli’s trophy is bare. And it seems that had finally come back to bite one of cricket’s modern-day legends. There was no doubt that failure at the T20 World Cup would have signaled the end of Kohli’s reins at least in the T20I. With Rohit Sharma emerging as the more than viable option, it was only a matter of when. However, it has not just been the lack of results for Kohli that working against Kohli. As per former cricketers and others in the know of things in the BCCI, Kohli has not exactly enjoyed the full support of the dressing room.

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His style of functioning, according to those who have watched him closely, borders on autocracy with very little room for inclusiveness, a report in PTI claims. Be it playing two spinners in the World Test Championship final at Southampton or not letting any player settle down in the No.4 position before the 2019 World Cup, his lack of flexibility has often been talked about in hushed tones. More recently, in the Test series against England, the decision to bench the world’s No.1 off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin did stick out like a sore thumb even though India led 2-1.

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He did enjoy supreme authority before the Adelaide Test against Australia earlier this year. But the 36 all out and his subsequent paternity break changed a lot of things. No one would say this openly but players felt more united than ever and we’re in a very happy space when they rallied to beat a full-strength Australia (unlike 2018-19), including a fabulous drawn game. By the time, Kohli rejoined the India set-up during the home series against England, he knew that the youngsters, who came of age, had empowered themselves with solid individual performances. “The problem with Virat is his communication. In case of MS (Dhoni), his room would be open 24×7 and players could just walk in, play the PS4, have a meal and let their hair down and if required talk cricket.

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“Beyond the ground, Kohli is literally incommunicado,” a former India player, who has seen Kohli’s early days of captaincy, told PTI during an informal chat. “Rohit has shades of MSD but in a different manner. He takes the junior players out for meals, gives them a friendly pat on the back when they are down and knows the mental aspects of a player’s make-up inside out,” the ex-cricketer said. When it comes to handling junior players, the biggest complaint against Virat is leaving them in the lurch when the chips are down. “Kuldeep Yadav, after a five-wicket haul in Australia, went downhill. Ditto for Rishabh Pant when he wasn’t in form. Umesh Yadav, a senior bowler, who is a workhorse on Indian pitches, never gets an answer on why he is not considered till someone gets injured? “He speaks about communication at media conferences but this is the truth that he has hardly hand-held any player when they needed their captain the most,” another cricketer, who is privy to Kohli’s chop-and-change policy, said. A senior BCCI official pointed out an interesting aspect of the Board’s media release on Thursday.

(With PTI Inputs)

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