The Indian cricket team for the upcoming one-day tour of Zimbabwe was recently announced. And surprisingly or unsurprisingly, whichever way you want to look at it, Virat Kohli was not picked in the squad for the three matches, which will be played in Harare from August 18 to 22. The 33-year-old last turned out for India during the tour of England, where he had a disastrous run across the three formats of the game. He was subsequently rested for the entire tour of the West Indies (ODIs and T20Is), which is currently underway. And now, he is not part of the Zimbabwe series as well.
According to media reports, Kohli had a conversation with the selectors and informed them that he would be available for the Asia Cup, which starts on August 27. Meanwhile, PTI quoted a source as saying, “The first team players will hardly get rest from the Asia Cup till the end of World T20. Hence this is a two-week window after the Windies tour when they can rest. No further rest will be allowed to anyone after the West Indies series.”
Why no openness over the Kohli situation?
The main issue with the whole saga surrounding Kohli is that there is no direct communication over the cricketer’s availability or non-availability. Both the teams for the West Indies and Zimbabwe squads were announced via a press release on the official BCCI website. There was no explanation as to whether Kohli has been rested or dropped. Ditto for the other players like Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer, who are not part of the team for the Zimbabwe series. The lack of clarity is clearly not helping matters as speculations are rising every day with regards to what the exact situation is with Kohli.
Yes, it can be argued that along with the former Indian captain, the other big names like skipper Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja have also been rested. However, Kohli’s case is different from the others. He has been struggling for rhythm for an extended period now, and his woes came to the fore during the tour of England once again. Kohli registered the highest score of 20 in six international innings across the game’s three formats.
After this, he was not picked for the West Indies series. Under normal circumstances, one would feel that a player has been dropped after a disastrous tour. But being such a big name, the ‘D’ bomb cannot be dropped in this case. It would create a big furore. At the same time, BCCI’s silence over the matter is deafening and only adds to all the confusion. One must remember that Kohli was also given a break for the five-match T20I series against South Africa. This came at the back of another poor Indian Premier League (IPL) season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Conspiracy theories floating
With the BCCI has refused to come out in the open about the Kohli conundrum, the same has led to numerous conspiracy theories floating around. Sharing his thoughts after the squad announcement for the West Indies series, former India captain Kapil Dev hinted that he might have been either “dropped or rested.” Further, former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria claimed that Kohli has been dropped for the Zimbabwe series and might not feature in the Asia Cup as well. He lamented the “injustice” being done to the former Indian skipper.
In all certainty, Kohli could return to the team for the Asia Cup. But the question remains – why is there no coherence over the entire matter? In case, the BCCI feels Kohli is better off resting for a particular series; they also need to justify the same. Moreover, they owe it to the fans, who are the most prominent investors in the sport. In the wake of all that has transpired over the last few months, if Kohli now fails at the T20 World Cup, the BCCI’s tactics would come under severe scrutiny.