DA COSTA: Cricketer Kohli quits as India’s Test captain

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Virat Kohli’s decision to quit as captain of India’s Test team took the world by storm.

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But King Kohli, as he is affectionately known in his cricket-crazy country, will continue as a player in the three formats of the game but minus the armband.

In Dubai during the Twenty20 World Cup in November, he caught the Indian board by surprised by resigning as T20 captain, much against their wishes. A month later, the board caught Kohli off guard by stripping him as captain of the one-day team but allowed him to lead the Test squad.

It’s no secret that Kohli and former manager Ravi Shastri ran the national teams as their personal fiefdom with little or no say from the board. But with former India captain Sourav Ganguly now at the helm of the board, Kohli must have realized his days of running the show were over.

Ganguly took no prisoners during his days as skipper and he made it clear after a spat over the T20 leadership he wasn’t going to bow down to Kohli. And Kohli wasn’t going to, either.

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Kohli found himself cornered after India lost the three-Test series against South Africa after arriving in the Rainbow Nation as odds-on favourites to finally win a Test series on African soil. But Dean Elgar and his Proteas turned the tables on the far-superior Indians for an unexpected 2-1 victory. After that defeat, Ganguly and his board had ample ammunition to fire the captain. Kohli must have realized it was best he jumped before he was pushed.

Kohli ruled with an iron fist and his leadership brought to mind Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “My Way.” Kohli was loved in some quarters as he did things his way, while others loathed him because of his perceived lack of empathy for some of his players. Regrets, he has had a few but then again too few to mention. His biggest failure was not being able to win a World Cup while his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni captured two.

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The 33-year-old Kohli will be remembered for the passion and intensity he injected into transforming India into a world power in all three formats. Despite the politics of the game, Kohli was a star batsman with 27 centuries in the 99 Tests he played with 7,962 runs.

On the field he changed the culture of Indian cricket. He helped erase the ‘Lions at home, lambs abroad’ tag associated with the team. India completed series’ victories in Australia and in England as well. He also made sure India was no longer simply dependent on spinners by helping develop a lethal pace attack consisting of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah. They helped Kohli record 40 wins in 68 matches.

Now that Kohli has departed as captain, India will be hopeful that Kohli the batsman will blossom.

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REDUCED TO ASHES

The country that introduced cricket to the world will now return to the drawing board and learn on how to play the game.

It was nothing short of embarrassing to see England humiliated by 146 runs in the fifth and final Test in Hobart after yet another batting collapse.

Australia, under new captain Pat Cummins, completed a 4-0 victory over sad-sack England. It should have been a five-game sweep if rain, bad light and possibly a late declaration hadn’t saved it from certain defeat in Sydney.

In Hobart, England lost all of its second innings wickets for just 56 runs after it was bowled out for a paltry 124 after being set 271 to win. Openers Zak Crawley (36) and Rory Burns (26) briefly raised England’s hopes by putting on 68 before the collapse. Cummins, Scott Boland and Cameron Green led the slaughter with three wickets each.

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For England, the only one to come off without a scratch to his reputation was fast bowler Mark Woods, who returned the incredible figures of six for 37 to restrict Australia to 155 after it had put on 303 in the first innings behind Travis Head’s 101 and Green’s 74.

England scored 188 in the first with Cummins grabbing four for 45.

This tour was so one-sided that the fans were short-changed. England lost the first Test by nine wickets, the second by 275 runs and the third by a whopping innings and 14 runs. The only consolation was the fourth that ended in a draw. The knives are already out for skipper Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood and it’s now almost certain Silverwood will be sacked as soon the team lands at Heathrow.

This follows after a bombshell report by English cricket writer Nick Hoult in The Telegraph about a heavy drinking problem and lack of discipline. The report states because of the claustrophobic nature of life in the bubbles, members of the coaching staff were understood to be drinking as heavily as the players.

The report goes on to detail fitness issues within the camp. “One player refused to take part in the skin-fold test — a gauge of body fat — and, when pressed, accused England of trying to fat shame him. The test was never carried out,” Hoult writes.

Police had to be called on two occasions in Hobart after noise complaints.

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