“Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, it’s now”
In his tweet, Kohli said: “It’s been 7 years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance everyday to take the team in the right direction. I’ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there. Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, it’s now. There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey, but never has there been a lack of effort or lack of belief. I have always believed in giving my 120 per cent in everything I do, and if I can’t do that, I know it’s not the right thing to do. I have absolute clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team.
“I want to thank the BCCI for giving me the opportunity to lead my country for such a long period of time and more importantly to all the team-mates who bought into the vision I had for the team from day one and never gave up in any situation. You guys have made this journey so memorable and beautiful. To Ravi Bhai [Shastri] and the support group who were the engine behind this vehicle that moved us upwards in Test cricket consistently, you all have played a massive role in bringing this vision to life. Lastly, a big thank you to MS Dhoni who believed in me as a captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian cricket forward.”
The BCCI, which tweeted a statement congratulating Kohli for his “admirable leadership qualities”, has not indicated when it will name his replacement. Rohit had been appointed full-time vice-captain ahead of the South Africa Tests, but a hamstring injury on the eve of the team’s departure meant he could not make the trip and the selectors then appointed KL Rahul as Kohli’s deputy. Rahul also stood in as captain in the second Test, in Johannesburg, after Kohli pulled out due to back spasms.
Going by numbers, he was India’s best captain by a distance. Dhoni (27 wins from 60 matches) and Ganguly (21 wins out of 49) are next on the list.
Of his 40 wins, 16 came overseas, including series victories in Sri Lanka (2-1) in 2015, West Indies (2-0) in 2016, Sri Lanka (3-0) in 2017, Australia (2-1) in 2018-19 and West Indies (2-0) in 2019. Under Kohli, after the WTC final, India also led what was originally a five-match series in England 2-1, before the fifth Test was called off because of Covid-19 fears in the Indian contingent.
Kohli is also lauded for his fitness-oriented approach to the game, and will be remembered for using the five-bowler strategy consistently in Test cricket.
India’s next Test assignment is a two-match series against Sri Lanka at home in February-March, when Kohli is expected to play his 100th Test. The BCCI and selectors are likely to announce his successor as captain at the time of the squad selection.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo