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All you need to know about the Kohli-BCCI scuffle

Last updated on 18 Dec 2021 | 04:42 AM
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All you need to know about the Kohli-BCCI scuffle

A complete timeline of events starting from the day Kohli quit T20I captaincy

All is not well in Indian cricket and what we are currently witnessing is a near full-blown Civil War between the governing body for cricket in the country, BCCI, and the man who was not too long ago seen as the single most powerful force in Indian Cricket. We are, of course, talking about Virat Kohli, although recent happenings have cast serious doubts over the “most powerful” tag.

Last week, the BCCI sacked Kohli as the skipper of the ODI team and named Rohit Sharma as his successor, but the manner in which they did so - hiding the news at the bottom of a press release which was titled around squad news for the South Africa tour - rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way. 

Plenty of rumors did the rounds in the following days, including ones that painted Kohli the villain, but on Wednesday the Indian skipper, after a week of keeping mum, finally broke his silence and gave his side of the story. 

And within minutes Kohli’s comments sent the internet into meltdown. Among Kohli’s revelations was the fact that he was told one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting for the Test series that he was being sacked as the ODI skipper, with the BCCI providing no prior communication about the same.

The disclosure caught fire particularly because it contradicted the words of the BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly, who suggested two days ago that both parties had talked through the key decisions.

As is always the case in controversies like this, people have already started taking sides. Nobody knows what the truth is, so let us just traverse through the timeline of events that have happened so far. 

September 16, 2021 -  Virat Kohli reveals decision to step down as T20I captain  

The root of the issue can be traced back to this. On September 16, 2021, days before the start of the second half of IPL 2021 and a month before the start of the T20 World Cup, Kohli took to social media to announce that he would be stepping down as the T20I captain post the T20 World Cup. 

Kohli, in his statement, cited ‘workload management’ as the reason for stepping down and in no place did he make any mention of potentially wanting to give up ODI captaincy. 

This resignation from Kohli, although it was just T20Is, took fans aback for only days prior, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah had rubbished rumors of Kohli stepping down. 

“There is no such proposal (to replace Kohli) and the team is led by Virat and we are backing him,” Jay Shah said days prior to Kohli’s announcement. 

“We are sensitive to the fact that such a proposal is not in the interest of the Indian team when it will take part in a World Cup,” Shah added.

Not just Jay Shah, but BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal too publicly stated days prior to Kohli’s T20I resignation that the 33-year-old would continue to captain the country in all formats. 

“This is all rubbish. Nothing (as) such is happening. This is all what you guys (media) are talking about. BCCI has not met or discussed anything on this issue (split captaincy). Virat will remain as the captain (of all formats),” Dhumal told IANS. 

The contradiction was evident but it was brushed aside, with little attention given to it. 

Reports start doing the rounds claiming that Kohli will be removed as ODI captain too if India fail to win the T20 World Cup

Team India were set to contest a T20 World Cup, but after Kohli’s decision to step down as T20I captain, reports started doing the rounds claiming that Kohli would be sacked as ODI captain if India fail to win the T20 World Cup. 

The reports claimed that Kohli was already living on borrowed time, and that the BCCI were ready to pull the trigger should India once again fail to win an ICC Trophy. 


The rumor of Kohli being sacked as white-ball captain, altogether, started catching fire after India crashed out in the group stages of the T20 World Cup, but there were no developments in the ensuing weeks. 

In the meantime, though, the BCCI confirmed that Rohit Sharma would be leading the side in the T20I series against New Zealand. The board, at this point, had only appointed Rohit as skipper for one series and had not confirmed that he would be taking over as T20I captain permanently, but the decision seemed inevitable. 

Days, weeks passed with no developments on the captaincy front, and it seemed that Kohli would after all continue leading the side in two formats, as per his wish. 

But then came the bombshell from the BCCI on 8th December, 2021. 

December 8, 2021 - BCCI confirm the ouster of Kohli from ODIs

On the evening of December 8, 2021, the BCCI sent out a media release titled ‘India’s squad for Tests against South Africa announced.’

At the first glance, it looked like a normal press release which contained squad information for an upcoming tour. 

But at the very bottom of the release, the BCCI dropped a bombshell ever so casually. 

“The All-India Senior Selection Committee also decided to name Mr Rohit Sharma as the Captain of the ODI & T20I teams going forward,” the board added, confirming that Kohli had, in fact, been sacked as the ODI captain. 

Fans outrage over manner of Kohli’s dismissal 

The manner in which the BCCI decided to make the Kohli announcement - through a tame press release - did not go down well with fans and several experts, who thought it was disrespectful. Kohli had been the face of Indian cricket for a decade, and yet there was no press conference, heartfelt message or tribute - just a single line hidden at the bottom of squad news. 

But after severe backlash, the BCCI finally acknowledged Kohli’s contribution via multiple social media posts. 

Even these posts, however, which came out a day after the announcement, did not convince too many people, who accused the BCCI of deploying ‘damage-control’ tactics. 

The board’s acknowledgement of Kohli’s legacy as captain remained limited to just these three social media posts. 

Rumors start doing the rounds post Kohli’s sacking

Post Kohli’s sacking, the sheer amount of rumors that did the rounds were absurd, almost 2006-esque. 

Certain reports claimed that both Kohli and BCCI had come to a mutual agreement, but a PTI report suggested that the BCCI had given Kohli a 48-hour ‘step down on your own or get fired’ ultimatum. 

“The BCCI, it is learnt, waited for the last 48 hours for Kohli, who has already relinquished T20 captaincy, to voluntarily step down from ODI leadership as well but he did not. By the 49th hour, losing the position to Rohit Sharma was simply 'fait accompli',” the report claimed. 

By this point, people simply believed what they wanted to believe. 

December 12, 2021 - Ganguly says he ‘personally spoke’ to Kohli 

Speaking to News18 days after the sacking of Kohli from ODI captaincy, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly claimed that he personally spoke to Kohli and requested him not to give up T20I captaincy.

“I personally requested him (Kohli) not to give up T20 captaincy. 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.”

Ganguly also said that the selectors wanted ‘only one white-ball captain’, thereby implying that Kohli knew ODI captaincy would be taken away from him if he decided to give up T20I captaincy.

“Also, they wanted only one white-ball captain. And that’s why this decision. I don’t know what’s going to happen in future.”

Immediately after this interview, Ganguly and the BCCI were lauded for taking a sensible decision. 

However, on Wednesday (December 15) Kohli finally broke his silence and gave his side of the story. 

And in that, the Indian Test skipper denied Ganguly’s claims and revealed that there was ‘no prior communication’ from the BCCI. Kohli revealed that he was informed that he was being sacked as the ODI captain one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting for the Test series versus South Africa. 

"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.

"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."

Kohli denies Ganguly’s claims

"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."

The fiasco surrounding Kohli’s availability for South Africa ODIs

The controversy surrounding Kohli’s sacking as ODI captain was bad enough. But outside that, there was another fiasco. 

Earlier this week, reports emerged claiming that Kohli would be flying back to India post the Test series versus South Africa, and will miss the ODIs due to a pre-planned holiday.  

On Tuesday, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal confirmed the same to Times Now.

"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 had said.

The news was interpreted by many as Kohli’s way of indirectly expressing displeasure over the BCCI’s decision to sack him as captain.

Some, meanwhile, used these rumors as a base to question Kohli’s commitment to the national side.

However, in the press conference on Wednesday, Kohli rubbished suggestions that he was planning to miss the ODI series and confirmed that he was available for selection.

"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.

"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."

The big takeaway

Although Kohli and the BCCI have not had a direct go at each other, all signs point towards a fractured relationship between the two parties. The contradicting statements made by both parties have made it clear that there is a massive communication gap, and recent developments suggest that there might have been a pretty big fallout. 

As we await further developments in this saga, it has to be said that it is Indian cricket that currently stands as the biggest loser in this spat. The sooner the Kohli-BCCI relationship is repaired, the better it is for Indian cricket. 

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