After Virat Kohli’s sudden resignation the spotlight turned to his likely successor as India Test captain on Sunday, with white-ball skipper Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul favourites to take over the high-pressure job.
Kohli, 33, shocked the cricket-crazy nation on Saturday by stepping down following the team’s 2-1 series loss in South Africa.
The superstar batsman walks away as India’s most successful Test leader, with 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests as captain.
“At the moment Rohit and Rahul are the only two names that come to mind” to succeed him, a senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“We will have to sit and discuss to come up with Kohli’s successor. Rohit is already the white-ball captain, so let’s see.”
Rohit, 34, took over the Twenty20 job from Kohli following India’s World Cup exit, and later replaced him as captain in the 50-over format as well.
Kannur Lokesh Rahul led India in the second South Africa Test after Kohli missed the match due to injury.
The 29-year-old Rahul will also be named captain for the upcoming three one-day matches in South Africa after Rohit, who has had fitness issues, failed to recover from an injury.
Other names in contention include Rishabh Pant, who scored an unbeaten 100 — albeit for a losing cause — in the third Test in Cape Town.
Former captain Sunil Gavaskar told TV channel India Today the wicketkeeper-batsman should be considered.
“Tiger Pataudi was captain at the age of 21 under adverse circumstances but look what he did. He took to it like a duck to water,” Gavaskar told the channel.
Pant “has the capability of taking Indian cricket forward and making it a very exciting team to watch,” he added.
Tributes pour in
Kohli’s Test team gave the nation some unforgettable memories, including their first-ever series win in Australia in 2019 and a long run as the world’s top-ranked team.
But a world title remained elusive for the captain despite making the finals of the inaugural Test championship, which they lost to New Zealand.
Tributes poured in for the world’s leading batsman, who is expected to play his 100th Test against Sri Lanka at home next month.
“Congrats @imVkohli on what you and your team has achieved under your leadership and thank you for supporting Test cricket so passionately,” Australia’s Shane Warne wrote on Twitter.
West Indies great Viv Richards also lauded Kohli’s “stunning run” at the helm. “For sure, your name will be up there among the best leaders in world cricket,” he wrote.
BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly said Kohli would “continue to be a very important member” of the India team. “Under his leadership, the Indian cricket team has made rapid strides in all formats of the game,” he added.
“Every good thing comes to an end and this has been a very good one.“
RESIGNATION SHOCKS INDIANS:
Virat Kohli shocked the Indian cricket world on Saturday by abruptly resigning as the national side’s Test captain, after leading the team to memorable overseas victories in his seven years in charge.
Kohli, considered one of the best batsmen of his era, took to Twitter to announce his decision a day after India’s series defeat in South Africa.
“It’s been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance everyday to take the team in the right direction. I’ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there,” Kohli said in his statement.
“Everything has [to] come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, it’s now. There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey, but never has there been a lack of effort or lack of belief.”
After Kohli’s announcement of relinquishing the Test captaincy, the Indian cricket board tweeted: “BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) congratulates team India captain Virat Kohli for his admirable leadership qualities that took the Test team to unprecedented heights.”
The feisty top-order batsman has had a difficult relationship with the BCCI since stepping down as the Twenty20 captain after last year’s World Cup.
That cost him the One-Day International captaincy as well, with the BCCI installing Rohit Sharma as captain in both the short formats.
Kohli, who took over the reins in 2014, led India in a record 68 test matches, winning 40 and losing 17.
BCCI officials were not immediately available to confirm who would take over as India’s next Test captain, although opener KL Rahul’s name has already started doing the rounds.