Former India team director and allrounder Ravi Shastri has said Virat Kohli is ready to take over the captaincy from MS Dhoni across all formats, and this is the right time to make the switch “in the interest of Indian cricket”.
Kohli already captains India in Test cricket, from which Dhoni has retired, but Dhoni still leads in the shorter formats. Given India play a lot more Tests than limited-overs cricket in the coming months, Shastri said “the gaps” in play for Dhoni will be hard on him. He said he would “definitely be thinking” of naming Kohli captain across formats if he were a selector.
“I definitely think so [Kohli should be given the job across formats],” Shastri told India Today Television. “You have to see where India is going to go three years down the line. There are no major events till about three years down the line when you are back with the World Cup. So, this is your best time to think and build.
“India play hardly any one-day cricket if you see the next 18 months-two years, and the gaps between Tests and ODIs are massive. So, here’s your time to look ahead and see what you can do with an Indian side all-round three years down the line. If I am the chairman of selectors, I would be thinking in that direction, no question about it.”
‘Virat is a very thorough captain’ – Ashwin
Speaking to Hindustan Times, India offspinner R Ashwin lauded Virat Kohli’s captaincy. “Virat is a very thorough captain. He does his homework before the game,” Ashwin said. “We do a lot of team meetings before the game, there’s a lot of honesty around. That gives me the confidence and interest while going out on the field. He gives me enough freedom to express myself and take control of what fields I want to set and how I want to bowl.”
Shastri admitted it would be a tough call to make, but said it would be for the good of Indian cricket. “It’s a catch 22, it’s a hard decision, but I would be thinking about it from now.
“The game has to evolve, hard decisions have to be taken, such is life. And nothing wrong in that, it is in the interest of Indian cricket. If you see down the line and you think Dhoni is still the best captain, keep him as captain. But the issue here is the breaks [between Tests and ODIs], and do you have a guy ready [to succeed Dhoni]. My answer is you have a guy ready.”
Shastri had worked with the Indian team as director for two years, from August 2014 till the 2016 World T20. Dhoni had captained the team across formats till December 2014, when he retired from Test cricket mid-series in Australia. Kohli took over as Test captain from the New Year’s Test against Australia in Sydney in January 2015. Shastri said Dhoni could still contribute in limited-overs cricket as a player, if he is freed of the responsibilities of captaincy.
“By no stretch of imagination you are taking anything away from Dhoni [by making Kohli captain]. He can still contribute massively as a player. I think the time has come for to allow him to enjoy himself and enjoy the game.
“End of the day, it is about how hungry Dhoni is, how passionate he is, whether the juices still go as in wanting to play for India. Also the time has come where you have a guy whom you have groomed over a period of time. Virat is ready.”
2015 Kashmir Despatch