Virat Kohli’s seven-year stint as captain of India’s Test team came to an end with a defeat in the Test series against South Africa recently, but the respect that he commands among cricketing greats hasn’t diminished much.
Ravi Shastri, former India coach who teamed up with Virat Kohli to take Indian cricket to its peak, said the Delhi lad could have continued as the skipper for two more years had he not stopped enjoying being a captain.
“Do I think Virat could have continued to lead India in Tests? For sure, he could have led India for at least 2 years because next two years India would be playing at home and who is coming over – 9 and 10 jacks, going by the rankings. But he would have then made it to 50-60 wins under his captaincy and a lot of people will not be able to digest that fact,” Shastri told India Today recently.
“In any other country, this kind of record is incredible. You won against Australia, England and lost 1-2 to South Africa but still, there are debates about whether he should be the captain or not. I think we should respect his decision,” Shastri added.
Comparing Kohli to Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev, Shastri said Kohli has done his bit as the captain and now he is keen on enjoying his cricket as the batsman. “When Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni were not enjoying captaincy, they left. Similarly, when Virat thought that he had won 40 matches, six years he had been leading and now he wants to enjoy his cricket. He wants to focus on his batting and release a bit of pressure and it happens with a lot of individuals,” the former coach said.
“Virat Kohli led India in 5-6 years in Tests and out of those, five years India was no. 1. No Indian captain has this kind of record and there are only a handful of captains over the world with this kind of record. So when the most successful captain decides to step down as captain it’s an individual’s decision because his record of 40 wins is unprecedented.”
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Kohli first quit as the skipper of the T20 squad after the World Cup debacle in Dubai and was removed unceremoniously as the leader of the ODI squad just ahead of the South Africa tour.
Kohli may not have won any ICC trophy during his tenure as captain, but he made a name for himself with his aggression, fitness and ability to mould and lead a bunch of youngsters to glory. Considering he had giant shoes to fill in, with his predecessor MS Dhoni leading India to two World Cup titles, Kohli, his admirers say, went on to make a place for himself that is unique and worth emulating for future captains.
The right-handed batter can be credited for making the Indian Test team number 1 in Test rankings. It was under his leadership that India won its first Test series in Australia in 2019. To date, Virat Kohli remains the best Indian Test captain with 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests as captain. He also ranks fourth in the list of most victories as Test captain behind South Africa’s Graeme Smith (53) and Australian duo of Ricky Ponting (48) and Steve Waugh (41).