Virat Kohli denies rumours he sought to skip South Africa ODI series
Indian Test captain Virat Kohli has denied reports that he asked to skip the upcoming one-day international (ODI) series in South Africa.
This comes a week after Rohit Sharma replaced Kohli as ODI captain.
Local media reported on Tuesday that the star cricketer wished to opt out of the series, sparking speculation.
The latest changes in India’s Test and ODI line-ups come after former captain Rahul Dravid took over as head coach, replacing Ravi Shastri.
India’s tour of South Africa begins with a three-match Test series on 26 December, followed by three ODIs between 19 and 23 January.
“I am available for selection for ODIs,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I was contacted 1.5 hours before [the] selection committee meet. The chief selector discussed the Test team. Before ending the call, the selectors told me I won’t be ODI captain and I was fine. There was no prior communication.”
He said that Sharma, who would sit out the Test series because of a hamstring injury, was “a very able captain and very tactically sound” and wished him a “speedy recovery”.
Sharma is expected to recover by the time of the first ODI match, according to NDTV news channel.
Quoting sources, NDTV also reported that Kohli had requested the Indian cricket board (BCCI) to allow him to opt out of the ODI series.
This led to speculation on social media with cricket fans and commentators wondering if the 33-year-old star batsman was miffed at being replaced as ODI captain, fuelling rumours of a rift between him and Sharma, 34.
But Kohli said on Wednesday that he had no “problems” with Sharma and that he was “tired of answering” the same question for the past two-and-a-half years.
Kohli first led India in an ODI in 2013, before taking over as limited-overs captain – for both Twenty20 and ODI – from Mahendra Singh Dhoni in January 2017.
He won 65 of the 95 ODIs while in-charge and led India to the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, where they lost to New Zealand.
In November, he stepped down as India’s Twenty20 captain after the men’s T20 World Cup. He said he needed to “give himself space” to be “fully ready” to continue leading India in Test cricket and one-day internationals.
Weeks later, he was replaced for ODIs by Sharma, who is also now the vice-captain of the Test team.
Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly said he had asked Kohli not to step down as T20 captain.
“The selectors felt that they cannot have two white-ball captains in two white-ball formats,” Ganguly told a news agency.
He added they did “consider” Kohli’s 70% winning rate as captain, but also pointed to Rohit’s record of eight wins in 10 ODIs as stand-in skipper.
Kohli is the third-most successful captain in Test history and India’s most successful Test captain in terms of win percentage. The Indian Test side, ranked at number seven in the world, rose to the top slot under him.
But India has failed to win an ICC trophy under him. The team last won the Champions Trophy in 2013.