Updated: Jan 18
The year 2022 didn't start well for the Indian cricket team. They lost the two test matches against the Protea team, after winning the boxing day test convincingly. If only the fans knew, the worst was yet to come. The sudden declaration by Virat Kohli to step down from test captaincy came as a shock to the fans. It's probably the worst news of 2022, and it came right in the second week of the year. The king stepping down as the captain of Men in Blue is bad, not just for the Indian team, but also for test cricket.
The energy and passion which he brings to the field are truly amazing. He will continue his services as a batter, but he as a leader was the best to see. As a leader of the team in the longest and the oldest format of the game, he contributed every bit of what he could do for the team. He was one of those players who kept test cricket as the highest priority in the generation of T20's.
7 and a half years ago, India was in a similar kind of shock, when MS Dhoni suddenly announced his retirement from test cricket amidst the ongoing Border Gavaskar Trophy in 2014. He passed the baton of tests to the best batsman in the world, Virat Kohli. Earlier, Virat had captained India in the shorter format in triangular series in 2013, but critics were not sure about his approach in tests.
Earlier in the same series when he got the opportunity to lead in the first test due to injured MSD, he led the team in Adelaide Oval from the front. Scoring 115 and 141 in his first test, he became the first Indian captain and second overall captain to score twin hundreds on his captaincy debut. He also recorded the highest runs by any captain on his captaincy debut match. Eventually, chasing 358, India fell short of 48 runs. But when asked if he regretted going for a draw instead, Virat proudly replied by saying, "not at all. No matter what situation we are in, we'll always go for a win . Looking for a draw will never be in my mind ".
After MSD announced his retirement, Virat became the permanent captain of the Indian Test team in the same series. And proving his critics wrong, he yet again led the team from the front scoring 147 runs. He became the only player in history to score three consecutive hundreds in the first three innings as a captain in tests. Although India lost the series, Virat scored 692 runs in 4 tests, which is the highest by any Indian in any series played in Australia. He yet again tried to win the last test match. The draw was never an option for him. He played to win.
Such was the attitude of the fierce youngster. It was the same attitude that helped India win a lot of matches in the years to come under his leadership. The quality of cricket India played under him was wonderful. Out of the 69 matches played by Virat in tests, 40 matches came in a winning cause. Having a win percentage of over 58% in tests is difficult, but not if you are Virat Kohli. Also, his average of 54.80 as a captain is the second-best average for the matches he played as skipper and is the best for any player who has captained for a minimum of 50 tests. He was a warrior who loved to lead from the front.
Even in the series in which India lost, Virat did fight as a warrior. An instance of this was seen in the on2018 India tour of England. Virat overcame his struggles of the 2014 England tour and registered his first test century in England in this series. In the 2018 series, he amassed 593 runs from 5 tests. The English media houses praises Virat and hailed him as one of the greatest of the game.
Under his fierce leadership, India won their first-ever Border Gavaskar series on Australian soil in 2018. With it, India became the first Asian team to beat Australia in Australia in a Test series. Virat's India repeated the heroics in the 2020-21 Border Gavaskar series. He led the Indian team in the final of the first-ever World Test Championship. Furthermore, in July 2021, they won the series in England. The Lord's victory came which came for India after 7 years, came under Virat's leadership. His instructions of cheering loud enough for the sound to reverberate in the Lord's dressing room, for Bumrah and Shami filled the Indian team with confidence so high, that they eventually won the test match.
His success can be noted, that the team ranked number 7 in tests when he took over as captain, ended up being the number 1 team in tests for a longer period. He raised the bar of the Indian team so high, that his team losing against the Protea team in South Africa is termed as an upset, despite being an overseas tour. He made the team that hardly won in overseas conditions, to one of the finest teams in the world, whose loss overseas was termed as an upset. That's his biggest success.
This is exactly why his decision to leave the captaincy was a shock. He could've easily led the Men in Blue for a longer period in red-ball cricket. The primary reason is the unnecessary hype by Indian media about his performance and the 71st century. Definitely, in the past 2 years, Virat has not played according to the standards he has set, but he is still the highest run-getter for India in these years. The unnecessary hype, pressure and the unspoken conflict and politics just resulted in the ambassador of test cricket quitting his captaincy. He is one of the finest and most aggressive captains of all time.
His aggression was often criticized by many but was also lauded by many, who believed in this guy as the ambassador of test cricket in the generation of limited over games. Australian and English cricketers have praised his approach for the longest format of the game. Even in the last series, opposition captain Dean Elgar spoke highly about Virat stating that his name is enough, and he is a dynamic person who brings energy to test cricket.
His sudden resignation has shocked everyone to the core. For the past 7 years, the synonym of captain for Indians was Virat. And now, seeing him as no more being a captain in any format will deeply hurt Indian fans. No one knows how India will proceed ahead in Tests with Rohit as the new captain. One can be hopeful. With Virat no more as a captain, one would hope to see them living up to the standards he has set as a batsman. After all, he is the best batsman of this generation. Even if he is no more the captain, whenever one will speak about the most successful captains of test cricket history, Virat's name will be on the top, and that will remain with him forever.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
Instagram ID: https://www.instagram.com/cricket_creativity/