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News

Kohli: Was told I wouldn't be ODI captain hour-and-a-half before SA Test squad was announced

Says that he has always been available for the ODIs in South Africa: "I have not had any communication with the BCCI saying I want to rest"

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
15-Dec-2021
Virat Kohli was informed of his removal as India's ODI captain just one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting to pick the Test squad for South Africa, he said at a press interaction on Wednesday.
Kohli also said that there had been no communication from the BCCI over the ODI captaincy between September 16, when he announced his decision to step down from T20I captaincy, and December 8, when the South Africa-bound Test squad was named.
At the time, Kohli said his decision to quit as T20I captain just prior to the World Cup was "received well" and termed as "progressive" by the BCCI top brass. His words were in sharp contrast to that of BCCI president Sourav Ganguly's, which suggested Kohli was asked to reconsider his decision.
"I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on December 8 for the Test series," Kohli said of the communication (or lack of it) with the BCCI on the ODI captaincy. "There was no prior communication to me at all from when I announced the T20I captaincy decision until the eighth (of December) where, as I said, I got a call one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting.
"When I decided to leave the T20I captaincy and approached the BCCI about my decision, it was received well - there was no offence or hesitation, I wasn't told to reconsider it"
Virat Kohli
"The chief selector [Chetan Sharma] discussed with me the Test team to which we both agreed, and before ending the call I was told that the five selectors have decided that I will not be the ODI captain, to which I replied, 'okay, fine'. And in the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. And that's what happened. There was no communication prior to that at all."
On December 9, Ganguly told PTI that he had requested Kohli to reconsider his decision to step down as T20I captain. Kohli's clarification seemed as if that wasn't the case.
"When I decided to leave the T20I captaincy and communicated that, and I approached the BCCI first about my decision, that this is my point of view, and these are the reasons due to which I am doing this, it was received in a very nice way," Kohli said. "There was no offence, no hesitation (from BCCI). I wasn't told you don't leave the T20 captaincy. Instead it was received well; I was told it's a very progressive step and in the right direction.
"At the time I told them 'yes, I'd like to continue (leading) in Tests and ODIs, unless the office-bearers and selectors feel I shouldn't be doing that responsibility'. Even that I had clarified on the call at the time. My communication to BCCI was clear since then about what I wanted to do. I gave them the option as well, that if the office-bearers and selectors feel I shouldn't (remain captain in Tests and/or ODIs), then the decision is in their hands."
'No communication with BCCI to say I want to rest for SA ODIs'
Kohli also confirmed that he was available for the ODIs in South Africa and all talk of him opting out were "lies" and there wasn't even a suggestion of him skipping the games.
"I was and I am available for selection all this time," Kohli said. "You should not be asking me this question, honestly, this question should be asked to people who are writing about these things and their sources, because as far as I'm concerned, I was always available.
"I have not had any communication with the BCCI to say that I want to rest. There were a few things that came out in the past as well, that it was said I was attending some events or something which was absolutely not true either. All these people who are writing these things and their sources, to me they're absolutely not credible."
On Tuesday, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told Times Now that Kohli would be taking a break. "To my understanding, before any decision was taken with regards to captaincy, it was decided that he (Kohli) will be going (to South Africa) for the Test matches only, not for the ODIs. He was wanting it that way because he needed a break," Dhumal has said. Kohli, however, categorically stated the opposite.
"As I said, I am available for selection for the ODIs in South Africa and I'm always keen to play. This question should be asked to people who are writing about this, writing lies, not to me because my communication with BCCI on this issue has not happened that I want to rest."
Nothing can derail me from being motivated to play for India'
Kohli didn't shy away from expressing his disappointment with "things that happen on the outside", but stressed that "nothing can derail me from being motivated to play for India".
"To be prepared for a tour like this and to perform to the best of my abilities, nothing has ever derailed, and nothing can derail me from that," he said. "A lot of things that happen on the outside are not ideal and not how one expects them to be, but you have to understand there's only so much that you can do as an individual and we have to keep thing in right perspective and do the things that you can as an individual, (that) are in your control.
"I'm very focussed. I'm very mentally prepared, and very excited to go to South Africa and do the best I can for the team and make the team win."
1400GMT The story has been updated with Arun Dhumal's quotes from Tuesday

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo