New Delhi: Speaking for the first time since he was summarily removed as captain of the Indian ODI team, Virat Kohli has refuted Indian cricket board (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly’s claim that the BCCI had ‘requested’ him not to give up captaincy of the Indian T20 team.
Kohli revealed that he was informed about his sacking only hour-and-a-half before India’s Test squad for the South Africa tour was announced. Speaking in his usual forthright manner, he dismissed reports that he would not be available for the ODI series in South Africa, in which Rohit Sharma would lead India for the first time as regular captain.
Ganguly had said last week that after Kohli announced his decision to give up T20 captaincy at the end of the T20 World Cup last month, he was requested to reconsider his decision. But since Kohli was firm on quitting the T20 captaincy, Ganguly said the selectors were left with no option other than to appoint Rohit Sharma as ODI captain as well, since they didn’t want to split the limited-overs captaincy.
“He stepped down as T20I captain and the selectors decided not to split limited-overs captaincy, opting for a complete separation,” Ganguly had said.
However, today Kohli denied this outright. “I first approached the BCCI explaining my point of view, thought process and reasons (to give up T20 captaincy). And at that point, it was received very well. There was no offence. There was no hesitancy. I was not told to not leave the T20I captaincy — rather it was received as a progressive call,” Kohli said today. “I had also communicated that yes, I would like to continue as the skipper in Tests and ODIs unless the office-bearers or the selectors feel I shouldn’t continue.”
Kohli said the news of his removal as ODI captain was given to him in an off-hand manner by chief selector Chetan Sharma, at the end of a phone call in which they discussed the composition of the Test team for the South Africa tour.
“I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on the 8th (of December) for the Test series.There was no prior communication at all since I announced the T20I captaincy decision until the 8th of December, when I got a call before the selection meeting. The chief selector (Chetan Sharma) discussed with me the Test team, to which we both agreed. And before ending the call, I was told the five selectors have decided I will not be the ODI captain, to which I replied, ‘okay, fine’… And in the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. That’s what happened.”
Kohli also said he made no request to be allowed to skip the ODI series against South Africa, and that he was tired of questions about his allegedly ‘strained’ relations with Rohit Sharma. “There is no problem between me and Rohit Sharma. I have been clarifying for the past two years and I am tired,” he said.