Dubai: It is for no reason Virat Kohli is called King Kohli. Be it his batting or the captaincy, he plays by his own rules and likes to dictate the course of an innings on the field or off it.
When he was sacked as captain of the ODIs, it was not the script that he would have wanted, despite the various versions that’s been going around - one by the Indian board president Sourav Ganguly, the other by the chief selector Chetan Sharma, and the third his own.
Then when the change happened, he rewrote the entire story again, but sadly the biggest loser in this episode is Indian cricket.
When Kohli had to miss the second Test against South Africa due to the back spasm, the Indian team, despite having the upper hand in the three-Test series, succumbed in the second and eventually the Proteas won the series. The land still remains an unconquered territory for Indians.
But that’s the least of the problems now.
In the absence of Kohli, the batting looked woefully short of depth. It also revealed the ugly truth that carrying the burden of the Indian nation’s expectations and scoring runs don’t go hand in hand, which the stand-in skipper KL Rahul must have realised.
Not just he - many of his predecessors of the modern era, including Mohammad Azharuddin, the longest-serving Indian skipper after Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid - they all struggled as a batter while leading India and their performance saw a huge dip. Even Ganguly encountered a similar fate but the slide was not huge.
It’s where Kohli will be missed. His records, as shared by veteran statistician Mohandas Menon on Twitter, showed that Kohli has scored 5,864 runs at an average of 54.80 with 20 centuries in 68 Tests, way above his record when he was not a captain which read 2,098 runs at an average of 41.13 with seven hundreds in 31 Tests. A phenomenal conversion rate in terms of centuries.
Kohli with 58.62 percentage ranks as the fourth among the most successful Test captains in win ratio. The top three being Steve Waugh (71.93%), Don Bradman (62.50%), Ricky Ponting (62.34%). The only non-Australian.
This legacy that he is leaving behind will be difficult to emulate by the future captains. However, even if someone does manage to achieve it, there is one aspect of his captaincy that will be unparalleled.
It is his fitness mantra. He was instrumental in bringing about the mindset among Indian team members that fitness is paramount. Even if one is supremely skilled, there’s no place in the Indian team if one does not pass the fitness tests like yo-yo or the 2km time trial, where fast bowlers have to complete the distance under 8 minutes 15 seconds and others under 8 minutes 30 seconds. Now it’s become the norm and this foundation that he has laid is set carry the Indian cricket to greater heights.
Incidentally, it was on January 15, 2017 Kohli captained India in an ODI against England, the first time he was incharge in all three formats. On January 15, 2022, he has lost captaincy in all three formats. Another record for King Kohli.