‘King Kohli’ crowned India ODI, T20 skipper

MOHALI, India: This file photograph taken on Oct 24, 2016 shows India’s Virat Kohli raising his bat after India won the third one day international (ODI) cricket match between India and New Zealand at the Punjab Cricket Stadium Association Stadium. —AFP

NEW DELHI: Selectors appointed Virat Kohli as India’s limited overs skipper yesterday as the number one ranked Test side sets its sights on winning back its title as one-day cricket’s world champions. Two days after India’s most successful ever captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni stood down from the helm of both the Twenty20 and 50 overs sides, Kohli was confirmed as skipper in all three of the game’s formats.

The swashbuckling batsman, who has presided over an 18-match unbeaten run as Test captain, will first lead India in three one-day internationals starting from January 15 before the sides play three Twenty20 matches. His first major assignment will come in June when he will lead India’s defence of the Champions Trophy and his appointment also means he should captain India in the 50 over World Cup final in England in 2019.

Dhoni, who led India to victory in the 2011 World Cup as well as the 2007 World Twenty20, kept his place in both 15-men squads, the Indian board’s chief selector M.S.K Prasad announced in a televised press conference. Prasad told reporters that Kohli took part in the selection meeting which also decided on a surprise recall for the veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh. “Virat was with us on Skype” for the selection meeting in Mumbai, said Prasad.”After discussing with him, this is the best possible team we have. It’s a fantastic team.”

Red-hot form
The new 28-year-old skipper, whose nickname is ‘King Kohli’, is the world’s number one-ranked batsman in T20 cricket and is also second in the rankings for the 50 over and five-day formats. Since taking over from Dhoni as Test skipper in early 2015, Kohli has been in scintillating form, leading India to five successive series victories and scoring three double centuries in the last six months. He was also the player of the tournament in last year’s World T20 and smashed the record for most runs in the last edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

After making his debut in 2008, Kohli has scored 7,570 runs in 176 ODIs, including 26 hundreds and 38 half-centuries, at an average of 52.94. He also averages over 57 in T20 internationals. While India have built up a big lead over their rivals at the top of the Test rankings, they are second in the table in ODI cricket and third in the T20 format. Dhoni’s position as skipper came under threat after India lost to the West Indies in the semi-finals of last year’s World Twenty20, despite being overwhelming favorites as hosts of the tournament. India also went out of the 2015 World Cup at the semi-final stage to the eventual winners Australia. Kohli has nevertheless remained steadfastly loyal to Dhoni who was his captain when he was part of the Indian team which won the 2011 World Cup on home soil.

Writing on Twitter shortly before yesterday’s announcement, Kohli said: “Thanks for always being the leader a youngster wants to have around him. You’ll always be my captain @msdhoni Bhai.” Prasad said that Dhoni had agreed to captain an India A side which would play a warm-up match against England on Jan 10 in Mumbai. “I think he is the best guy to look after the youngsters. We know what Mahi (Dhoni) is all about,” Prasad said. “It’s not just about whether he has stepped down or anything. He is a captain by nature who leads from the front.” — AFP

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