Star India batter Virat Kohli has withdrawn from the entire five-match Test series against England due to personal reasons. Notably, it’s the first time ever that Kohli has missed an entire Test series in his over 12-year-long Test career. The 35-year-old has shown commitment to playing the longest format throughout his ever since his debut in 2011 and has been one of the staunchest supporters of preserving cricket’s oldest format.
Recently, former India head coach Ravi Shastri recalled how he identified Kohli’s leadership skills in his early days. Kohli captained the side for the first time in December 2014 in Adelaide against Australia and became the full-time captain from January 2015 onwards after MS Dhoni’s sudden retirement. Notably, Shastri was also the Director of Team India from 2014 onwards.
“There was a lot of individual brilliance but I wanted to see team brilliance. I wanted to win and to make Test cricket paramount and identified an uncut diamond in Virat Kohli. While (MS) Dhoni was my captain, my eye was on him (Kohli). I told him very early in my second month: ‘It’ll take time but watch, observe, be ready (for the captaincy)’,” Shastri was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Kohli had a phenomenal record as a Test skipper as he’s the fourth most successful captain in the history of the game with 40 wins to his name from 68 matches. His hunger to succeed in the format was evident through his aggression on the field.
“Kohli was fully engaged with Test cricket. He was passionate. He was prepared to do the hard yards and was prepared to play tough cricket, which fitted my way of thinking. When you play Australia or Pakistan you’ve got to have a ‘no complaints’, ‘no excuses’ attitude,” Shastri added.
Under Kohli’s reign, India won their first-ever series in Australia in 2018-19 by 2-1 and levelled a series in England by 2-2 in 2021-22. Further speaking ahead, Shastri credited Kohli for backing fast bowlers who all flourished under his leadership both home and away.
We were on the same page and wanted a battery of fast bowlers: Ravi Shastri
“We were on the same page and wanted a battery of fast bowlers. He was ready for a scrap. He wanted to play hard. We made it a free-for-all in the nets. You were allowed to bounce the s##t out of anyone. He was the first guy to embrace it; he was quite prepared to look ugly in the nets and the mindset changed,” he further said.
Kohli stepped down from Test captaincy in January 2022 after India failed to win a Test series in South Africa and lost by 1-2.