Virat Kohli: No prior communication about ODI captaincy; was always available for South Africa series

Virat Kohli says he was always available for selection for the South Africa ODI series, denying any rift between him and teammate (and new ODI captain) Rohit Sharma.

Virat Kohli: All these people who are writing these things and their sources, to me they're absolutely not credible. (File)   -  SPORTZPICS

Virat Kohli has said that he was informed that he would no longer be India's ODI captain by chief selector Chetan Sharma an hour-and-a-half before the selection meeting for India's Test squad to South Africa on December 8.

"There was no prior communication to me at all," Kohli said at a press interaction on Wednesday. Rohit Sharma has been made the ODI captain after being handed the reins of the T20I team. He has also been appointed the vice-captain in Tests.

"On December 8th, the chief selector discussed the Test team to which we both agreed and before ending the call, I was told that the five selectors had decided that I won't be the ODI captain to which I replied 'ok, fine' and in the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. That's what happened," Kohli added.

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Kohli also confirmed that he is available for the ODIs in South Africa, and all talk of him opting out are "untrue".
"I was, and I am available for selection. I have had no communication with BCCI to say that I want to rest. I was always keen to play," he said.

"There were a few things that came out in the past as well which said I was attending some events or something that was absolutely not true either.

"All these people who are writing these things and their sources, to me, they're absolutely not credible," he added.

Kohli also said that there would be no lack of motivation for him in the upcoming tour of South Africa. "A lot of things that happen on the outside aren't ideal, but you have to understand that there's only so much that an individual can do. We have to keep things in the right perspective. I'm very focused and mentally prepared to go to South Africa and do the best I can. Nothing can derail me from preparing for a tour like this and performing to the best of my ability."

Kohli threw his weight behind "very able" white-ball captain Rohit and said that he and head coach Rahul Dravid would have his unwavering support.

RELATED | Ganguly: We couldn’t have had two white-ball captains

"My responsibility is to push the team in the right direction. It's something that I looked to do even before I became captain. So, that mindset will never change. Rohit is a tactically sound captain. We've seen that in the games he has captained for India and in the IPL. Rohit and Rahul bhai, who is a very balanced coach and a great man-manager, will have my absolute support in whatever vision they set for the team.

I can't comment if me not being captain will leave a positive impact on my batting, those things no one can predict. I have taken a lot of pride in performing as a captain for the team and I've done the best that I could. I think what I know is my motivation levels to perform won't dip at all, I will always be prepared and eager to perform in the same manner."

Better placed

Three years ago, on the tour of South Africa, India ended the Test series on a winning note on an extremely tough pitch in Johannesburg. It was a great win not only because the team came to Johannesburg having lost the series but also because it had to brave a treacherous surface to overcome the odds.

That tour set in motion a transformation in India's red-ball cricket, which saw the team win back-to-back Test series in Australia and also qualify for the final of the inaugural World Test Championship. Kohli's side will also return to England with a 2-1 lead in the five-match Test series in July 2022.

Asked how motivating it was for the team to return to South Africa, Kohli said, "South Africa was the start for us as a team, travelling and starting to believe that we can win series overseas. We built it up nicely in England, and Australia (2018-19 tour) was an accumulation of all that effort.

"South Africa presents a different kind of challenge - the wickets have a lot of pace and bounce. You need to be at your absolute best to perform there and get difficult runs. That is something that we have tried to do as a team but probably left ourselves a bit too much to do. At certain times, sessions have gone very bad when they have gone bad. It is something we have controlled nicely in the recent past with more experience and guys understanding conditions how to transition their innings through the day so that they can bat long. We are very well placed now in terms of experience and believe that we can get the results we want as a team in South Africa."

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