Former India coach Ravi Shastri thinks Virat Kohli has taken a “smart decision” by giving up captaincy from all forms of cricket, paving the way to express himself better in the upcoming Indian Premier League.
Shastri, who witnessed Kohli’s leadership from close quarters during his stint as India coach, however, also feels the 33-year-old star batter could have continued as the captain in Test cricket.
“I think this (giving up captaincy) could be a blessing in disguise, to be honest. The pressures of captaincy off his shoulders, the expectations that come with being captain no longer there, he can go out, express himself, play freely, and I think he’ll look to do just that,” Shastri said.
“I think he has taken a smart decision of relinquishing captaincy. I would have still preferred if he stayed on as India’s red-ball captain but that’s his personal choice,” Shastri was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.com.
Kohli left many in shock when he stepped down as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain after 2021 IPL.
Subsequently, Kohli quit Test captaincy following India’s 1-2 series loss to South Africa. He had earlier relinquished T20 captaincy after the World Cup last year, a decision which led the BCCI to remove him as ODI skipper also.
“I think the most important thing is not to worry about his own performances, because he’s done enough in world cricket for people to know where he stands. It’s about him wanting to enjoy himself out there. I think that is the key. It’s mind over matter, it’s a case of telling yourself, ‘I want to go there, express myself, and enjoy myself’.”
The former all-rounder said captaining the Indian cricket team has its own challenges.
“It (captaincy) certainly does (have a shelf life). It’s not easy to be captain of a team in all three formats of the game, more so India because it is the most demanding job in the world. No other team captain faces the kind of pressure than the Indian team captain faces and that is simply because of the expectations of the billion people. Expectations are huge. And especially as a captain if you set standards like Virat Kohli has, people expect you to win every game but that’s never going to happen. Even the greatest of team will have an off season, will have a period where nothing fires and the pressure will built,” Shastri said.
Asked if Kohli can be used as an opener by RCB this year, Shastri said: “That depends on the balance of the team. I don’t know what their middle-order is. Just in case they have got a very strong middle-order, there is no harm in Virat opening.”