NEW DELHI: India’s white-ball captain Rohit Sharma has come out in defence of Virat Kohli who was unceremoniously removed from ODI captaincy, saying he has put the team in a position where there is no looking back.
Kohli was fired as captain of India’s ODI side last week, a month after he stepped down as the T20 leader following the T20 World Cup.
But the 33-year-old remains Test captain and will lead India in three Tests in South Africa starting on December 26.
Rohit praised Kohli for his leadership since he took over the limited-overs job from MS Dhoni in 2017.
“He has put the team in a position where there is no looking back. Those five years that he has led the team, he led from the front every time we stepped onto the park,” Rohit, 34, said in a video on the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s official website on Sunday.
“There was clear grit, determination to win every game. That was the message to the entire squad and we had a great time playing under him.”
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, which will also include three ODIs.
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.
“Also, they wanted only one white-ball captain. And that’s why this decision.”
Rohit wants to win World Cup
The new skipper said he hopes to win a world title for the cricket-crazy nation, an achievement that eluded his sacked predecessor Virat Kohli.
During Kohli’s five-year tenure India rose in the one-day, Twenty20 and Test rankings but missed out on securing a single international tournament.
India, who last won a world crown — the Champions Trophy — in 2013, failed to make the semi-finals in this year’s T20 World Cup and got knocked out in the last four of the 2019 50-over showpiece event.
The team also lost the inaugural World Test Championship final to New Zealand in June.
“The last ICC trophy we won was in 2013, since then we haven’t won but I don’t think we did anything wrong after that,” Rohit said in the BCCI video.
“We played as a team, we performed as a team, it’s just that we couldn’t get that extra inch that we look forward to,” he said.
“There is a lot of World Cup coming up. India will definitely be eyeing to do well in all those World Cups.”
Rohit has led his Indian Premier League side Mumbai Indians to a record five titles and captained India to an Asia Cup triumph in the absence of Kohli.
Rohit said he and new coach Rahul Dravid, who took over from Ravi Shastri last month, aimed to have good communication with the players in the three ODIs in South Africa starting January 19.
“I have had very little opportunities to lead Team India, but whenever I have gotten an opportunity, I have tried to keep one thing in common, which is clear communication to the players,” said Rohit.