It has been an amazing 7 years at the top of the Indian cricket team for Virat Kohli, but his tenure as Indian test captain now comes to an end. It has been a whirlwind of controversies, and amazing come-from-behind results. He leaves having won the most games as captain for India ever! Kohli led the team to the top of the test rankings and has set the Indian team up for success.
Factors Leading to the Decision
Kohli’s sudden departure from captaincy was expected. After all, in December, Kohli announced that he would be leaving India’s T20 captaincy, after which Ganguly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) head, stripped him of the ODI captaincy as well. This was followed by an ugly war of words between Kohli and the BCCI, with each calling the other a liar. India’s recent 2-1 loss in South Africa was the last straw and Kohli decided to voluntarily leave before he was sacked again.
Aggression From the Start
India was ranked #7 before Virat came as captain and he brought us to #1. Virat gave the Indian team the confidence to look an overseas opponent in the eyes and is brave enough to make the tough decisions as captain. His tenure started in December 2014, in Adelaide, Australia. In his first test match as captain, he showed signs of what was to come. He immediately dropped the accomplished R. Ashwin, for an inexperienced Karn Sharma. While that may not have been successful, Kohli’s aggressive tactics were immediately on display. The mentality and ambition of going for the win would stick with India and pay off over time.
Captain of Pace
Kohli had a big role to play in developing India’s pace attack. In the past, we would lose Tests abroad due to their pace-friendly pitches and our team not having a decent pace attack. India now has Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, Ishant, and Umesh, becoming one of the most successful pace attacks in the world. Virat has had a major role in that, as he has groomed many of them.
King Kohli, as he is called, had a huge impact on the team’s ideas about fitness. He himself set the standards and called on the rest to follow. This has had a huge impact on their stamina and ability to maintain high-quality cricket over the entire Test series.
The 2019 Border-Gavaskar series was historic for India. While Australian stars Smith and Warner were out because of the ball-tampering incident in 2018, the Australian team was still favored to win. However, Virat and Cheteshwar Pujara led India to win a series in Australia for the first time ever. Virat Kohli was in the best batting form of his career. Now we were on top of the world, largely thanks to a well-rounded, often ferocious bowling attack.
Overall, Kohli led India to overseas wins in Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies, England, and South Africa, which would have been considered impossible in the past.
Infamous 36 All Out
The low for Kohli’s team came in 2019 when we started another series in Australia. In our second innings, we collapsed and scored only a mere 36 runs. 36 runs for the team that was supposed to be the best team in the world?!
All was not lost, as while Kohli took paternity leave and went back to India for the birth of his daughter Vamika, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane led one of the biggest comebacks in the history of cricket and gave India another amazing series win in Australia.
Something about his batting changed after November 2019. In the past 14 months, between November 2019 and January 2022, over 27 innings in Test cricket and 62 overall 3 forms of the game, that hundred was long overdue, never came. Now one hopes that without the pressures of captaincy, Kohli will be able to regain his supreme batting form and contribute to the team that way.
ICC Test Championship
It seemed like destiny that India had become such a force just as the ICC created a World Test Championship. They made the final without much fuss. Kohli was under immense scrutiny for his decisions at the World Test Championship. This was mainly because he chose to play two spinners on a green pitch. Not unexpectedly, New Zealand beat India and took the crown. Once again, Virat’s team had come so close, yet not managed to win an ICC trophy. He leaves without winning any international championship in any format.
Probability Not on His Side
However, one knock on his captaincy was the toss. If a captain wins a toss, it gives his team an early advantage to the game. With the expected toss winning average being 1, what do you think is Kohli’s ratio for winning the toss? This number may surprise you, but it is 0.72. 0.72 is the lowest toss winning percentage for any captain to lead their side for more than 100 tests EVER. Given that the toss certainly gives the winning captain an advantage, this shows just how good Kohli and the team had to be to win even after losing so many tosses.
All in all, his win to loss ratio as captain is 2.352 in tests. That puts him in the same bracket as legendary players in the game – Clive Lloyd with a percentage of 3, Steve Waugh with 4.5555, Ricky Ponting with 3, and Graeme Smith with 1.827. These are all-time greats, and Virat Kohli is right up with them.
However, I think the main legacy of Virat Kohli is that prior to his captaincy, winning an overseas test match was a surprise. Now, losing overseas is considered a huge upset! Thank you, Virat Kohli!
Adi Anand is 13-years-old and an 8th grader living in San Jose, California. He is an avid cricketer and sports aficionado.
Featured image under Creative Commons License.