Dubai: Speculations of a rift between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma is getting hazy with reports that the Test captain has not put in a formal request for a break from the one-dayers.
The media was abuzz with news that Kohli has requested for break from the three-match One Day International series against South Africa to celebrate his daughter’s first birthday on January 11, incidentally the day he is expected to play his 100th Test, while Rohit pulled out of the Test series with a hamstring injury on Monday.
“As of now, Kohli hasn’t sent any formal request to skip the ODIs to either BCCI [Indian cricket board] President Sourav Ganguly or Secretary Jay Shah. If something is decided at a later date or God forbid, he sustains an injury, then it’s a different matter,” a senior BCCI official privy to developments told PTI on conditions of anonymity on Tuesday. “As things stand today, he is playing the three ODIs on January 19, 21, 23,” he added.
Indian cricket has had its share of controversies over the years. and they generally tend to come in the wake of a disastrous performance in the ICC events. After losing in the group stage of the 2007 50-over World Cup in the West Indies, the Indian team saw a huge shake up, which propelled Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the leader of the pack and since then the Indian team has been on the upward curve until the recent Twenty20 World Cup in the UAE, where the favourites failed to go past the group stage.
However, this time the change was mooted much before the World Cup with former Indian captain Rahul Dravid replacing Ravi Shastri as the head coach and Kohli announcing that he would be stepping down from Twenty20 captaincy after the showpiece in UAE.
But the turn of events since then has left the fans confused. Kohli was unceremoniously ousted as ODI skipper last week and the media and the social media have been fanning the issue, as selectors were not able to reach the skipper. It is still unclear if Kohli has entered the bio-bubble before embarking on a tour of South Africa, which begins on December 26.
Former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin feels that all might not be well between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. He even questioned the timing of Kohli’s break from the ODI series, saying his timing of leave could have been better.
“Virat Kohli has informed that he’s not available for the ODI series and Rohit Sharma is unavailable for the upcoming Test. There is no harm in taking a break but the timing has to be better. This just substantiates speculation about the rift. Neither will be giving up the other form of cricket,” Azharuddin tweeted.
Kohli’s removal copped criticism from pundits and fans, especially after the announcement came in one line at the bottom of a press release about the squad for the South Africa tour.
But BCCI President Sourav Ganguly defended Kohli’s ouster, saying the management wanted one white-ball leader.
“I personally requested him (Kohli) not to give up the T20I captaincy,” Ganguly told News 18. “Obviously, he felt the workload. Which is fine, he has been a great cricketer, he has been very intense with his cricket. He has captained for a long period of time and these things happen.”
According to an Indian board official, Kohli is expected to address a press conference on Wednesday, which hopefully will set all speculations to rest.