Virat kohli was told to continue as T20 captain for the sake of Indian cricket: National selector Chetan Sharma

Selection committee chairman Chetan Sharma on Friday confirmed that the BCCI and the selectors did request, Virat Kohli, to continue as T20I captain, when he took the decision to step down before the T20 World Cup. Sharma spoke about how the white-ball captaincy change panned out and that Kohli was informed about it on the day of the Test team selection for the South Africa tour on December 8.

At long last, the chief selectors addressed the media today, reading out the 18-member ODI squad for South Africa and informing that the newly-appointed ODI captain Rohit Sharma would miss the white-ball leg of the tour as well, for he is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

“When the meeting started (in September), it was a surprise for everybody. Everybody who was part of that meeting told Virat to reconsider his decision. We felt at the time that it would affect the (team at the) World Cup and it was told to Virat for the sake of Indian cricket, ‘please continue as captain’. It was told to him by everybody. The convener was there. The Board officials were there. But he took the decision and we respected it,” Sharma told reporters.

While relinquishing T20I captaincy, Kohli had expressed his desire to continue as Test and ODI captain in his Instagram post and when he spoke to the press before the Test team’s departure for South Africa, he had said: “Before quitting T20I captaincy, I had approached the BCCI and explained the reasons behind my decision. That was received very well.

There was no offense or hesitation. Muhje yeh nahi kaha giya tha ki aap T20 captaincy na chodie (I was not told not to relinquish T20 captaincy). Rather it was taken as a progressive step, in the right direction.”

Today, Sharma was asked if the selectors had told Kohli that stepping down as T20I captain would lead to losing ODI captaincy as well? “That was not the right time (selection meeting for the T20 World Cup) to tell Virat that we wanted to have one captain in white-ball formats.

We were going to a World Cup. It wasn’t the appropriate time to tell him that if he stepped down as T20I captain, he couldn’t be the ODI captain as well. Everybody (selectors and BCCI officials) requested him to think about this decision after the World Cup,” Sharma replied.

This corroborates BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s comment to The Indian Express on December 10, when he told this paper on December 10: “We (BCCI) had requested Virat not to step down as T20I captain. There was no plan to change captaincy. But he stepped down as T20I captain and the selectors decided not to split limited-overs captaincy, opting for a complete separation.”

Sharma reconfirmed that unlike the T20I captaincy, the ODI captaincy change was the selectors’ call, as the committee felt that there couldn’t be two white-ball captains. “As soon as the selection committee took the decision, immediately I called up Virat. It was a Test selection meeting.

Immediately after that, at 5 o’clock we informed him that there would be one white-ball captain. In terms of planning, the selectors decided that we must have one white-ball captain and one red-ball captain. There were a couple of questions and we had a good conversation. We didn’t want to inform him at the selection meeting.”

The chief selector gave context to Kohli’s comment that he was sacked as the ODI captain on a 90-minute notice. “There’s no confusion. Look, the ODI selection is happening today. But we announced the ODI captaincy change on the day of the Test team selection because we wanted to give time to both Virat and Rohit,” Sharma explained.

Meanwhile, in Rohit’s absence, KL Rahul will lead India in the three ODIs in South Africa, while Jasprit Bumrah will be his deputy. Sharma spoke about giving Rohit sufficient time for recovery, given his fitness record and that it would be imperative to have him absolutely fit for big tournaments.

After cutting their teeth in T20Is, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer got into the ODI squad by dint of their “domestic performance”. Washington Sundar returned to the white-ball fold after recovering from a finger injury.

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