Virat Kohli, India’s Test captain and former white-ball captain, has decided to skip the ODI series in South Africa, which starts from December 17. Kohli had informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he needed a break from limited-overs cricket and wanted to spend time with his family, especially his daughter, who will turn one year old in January. Kohli will, however, be available for the two Test matches that follow the ODI series.
Sharma replaces Kohli as white-ball captain
Rohit Sharma, who was recently appointed as India’s T20I captain, has also been named as the ODI captain, taking over from Kohli. The BCCI announced the change in leadership while naming the Test squad for the South Africa tour on Wednesday. Sharma will now lead India in both the shorter formats of the game, while Kohli will continue to captain the Test team. Sharma has been India’s most successful captain in the Indian Premier League (IPL), leading Mumbai Indians to five titles.
BCCI wanted clarity and separation between formats
According to a senior BCCI official, the decision to appoint Sharma as the new ODI captain was taken by the selectors, who wanted to have absolute clarity and separation between red-ball and white-ball cricket. The BCCI also wanted to avoid any confusion or controversy over the split captaincy issue, which had been brewing since Kohli stepped down from the T20I captaincy in September. Kohli had expressed his desire to remain the ODI captain, but the BCCI wanted a change in the white-ball leadership, especially after India’s disappointing performance in the T20 World Cup.
Sharma ruled out of Test series due to injury
Sharma, however, will not be able to play in the Test series in South Africa, as he has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Sharma suffered the injury during the IPL and aggravated it during the T20 World Cup. He is expected to recover in three weeks and will be ready to lead the white-ball team in the ODI series. Priyank Panchal has replaced Sharma in the Test squad, while Shubman Gill is likely to open the batting with Mayank Agarwal.
India’s tour of South Africa begins on December 10
India’s tour of South Africa will begin with three T20Is, starting from December 10 in Durban. The three-match ODI series will follow from December 17 in Johannesburg. The two Test matches will be played from December 26 in Centurion and January 3 in Cape Town. The tour will be India’s first international assignment after the T20 World Cup, where they failed to qualify for the semi-finals. South Africa, on the other hand, will be playing their first series under their new head coach Mark Boucher.