His word against his: How Virat Kohli Clean Bowled Sourav Ganguly, President of World’s most powerful cricket board

Written by Vishwas Gupta

He came, he spoke, and he put all the chatter to rest. India’s Test captain Virat Kohli addressed a press conference for the first time since losing the white-ball captaincy in Mumbai on Wednesday and as expected, he spoke with extreme honesty and candidness. He answered the biggest burning questions doing the rounds in Indian cricket of late and with his revelations, proved BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and numerous other experts wrong.

BCCI has been known for being tight-lipped on several major issues and their decision-making has often sparked controversies in the cricketing fraternity. As it turns out, Kohli is the latest casualty of the board’s secretive behavior but the star batter made sure he cleared the air surrounding the ‘captaincy snub’ and his relationship with Rohit Sharma.

Both Kohli and Ganguly maintained a different stance on the captaincy fiasco. It all began with the BCCI announcing India’s Test squad for the upcoming three-match series against South Africa on December 8. A minute after the disclosure of the 18-member squad, they dropped the bombshell announcement; stating that Rohit Sharma will take over the ODI captaincy along with the T20I captaincy as well.

This piece of news blew the roof off as it left fans, cricketers, and journalists absolutely baffled. Why? That’s because at the time Kohli announced his resignation from T20I captaincy, he clearly stated that he will focus on leading the ODI and the Test side. Yet, a couple of months later, without any hint whatsoever, the cricketing board dropped the axe.

Four days later, on December 12, Ganguly broke his silence and revealed what had really happened. Most people bought his rationale until December 15, i.e., today, when 33-year-old Kohli provided a different picture.

“I personally requested him (Kohli) not to give up T20 captaincy. Obviously, he felt the workload. Which is fine, he has been a great cricketer, he has been very intense with his cricket. He has captained for a long period of time and these things happen. Because I have captained for a long period of time; therefore, I know. Also, they wanted only one white-ball captain. And that’s why this decision. I don’t know what’s going to happen in future. But as I said, it’s a good team and it has some fantastic players and I hope they will turn it around,” said Ganguly.

“Whatever was said about the communication that happened during the decision that was made was inaccurate. I was contacted one and a half hours before the selection meeting on the 8th for the Test series. And there was no prior communication with me at all since I announced the T20 captaincy decision up till the 8th. The chief selector discussed with me the Test team to which we both agreed, and before ending the call, I was told that the five selectors have decided that I will not be the ODI captain. To which I replied, ‘ok fine’. Later in selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly and that’s what happened. There was no communication prior to that at all,” revealed Kohli.

He added: “When I told BCCI that I want to give up T20I captaincy, it was accepted really well. There was no hesitancy. I was told that it was a progressive step. I informed at that time that I would like to lead in ODIs and Tests. The communication from my side was clear but I had also informed that if the office bearers and selectors don’t think I should lead in other formats then that is fine.”

Kohli when talking about why he was removed as ODI captain said: “Obviously, we have not won ICC tournaments. I can understand the reasons. There was no debate as to whether the decision was right or wrong.”

Now, there are two versions to what really happened and what transpired leading to the sack.

Ganguly, one of India’s most respected captains, taught his teams how to fight overseas and take on the big bullies of world cricket. Dadagiri in Indian cricket is part of folklore. More than a decade after his retirement from international cricket, Ganguly as BCCI president is writing another legacy. How that reads at the end of his tenure is another matter.

Kohli has directly taken on the board president with his sensational claims. There is clear contradiction. While Ganguly insists he asked Kohli to stay on as T20 captain, Kohli said he was never asked to reconsider his decision and he was in fact told it was a progressive move.

An official clarification from BCCI is a matter of time now but this was a needless controversy.

By the end of the press conference, Kohli had clearly established that his problems did not rest with Rohit Sharma or within the team.

The issue now appears to be one between India’s captain and board president.

Two of India’s biggest cricketers from different eras taking each other head-on is not good news. Will the truth ever come out? Or will there be constant back and forth of facts? Only time will tell.


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Vishwas Gupta