Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has revealed he saw captaincy potential in Virat Kohli well before the latter replaced MS Dhoni as the captain of the Indian team.
The former India allrounder stated that he had his eyes set on Kohli even when MS Dhoni was leading the team. Before replacing Anil Kumble as the head coach in 2017, Ravi Shastri had briefly served as the team director in 2014 when Dhoni was still leading India in all the three formats.
When he took charge of the team in 2017, Kohli had already replaced Dhoni as the captain across formats. They forged a strong partnership and took India to great heights especially in Tests. India won a Test series in Australia for the first time in 2018/19 season and repeated it in 2020/21 season as well. India also won Tests in South Africa and England and did not lose a single series at home during the duo’s tenure.
“There was a lot of individual brilliance but I wanted to see team brilliance. I wanted to win and to make Test cricket paramount and identified an uncut diamond in Virat Kohli,” Ravi Shastri was quoted as saying by News18.
“While (MS) Dhoni was my captain, my eye was on him (Kohli). I told him very early in my second month: ‘It’ll take time but watch, observe, be ready (for the captaincy)’,” he added.
Ravi Shastri on Virat Kohli’s captaincy:
Speaking further, Ravi Shastri heaped praise on Kohli’s captaincy and passion towards Test cricket. The former India coach stated that Kohli never shied away from working hard and playing tough cricket. He also talked about his rapport with Kohli, saying that they were on the same page.
“Kohli was fully engaged with Test cricket. He was passionate. He was prepared to do the hard yards and was prepared to play tough cricket, which fitted my way of thinking. When you play Australia or Pakistan you’ve got to have a ‘no complaints’, ‘no excuses’ attitude.”
“We were on the same page and wanted a battery of fast bowlers. He was ready for a scrap. He wanted to play hard. We made it a free-for-all in the nets. You were allowed to bounce the shit out of anyone. He was the first guy to embrace it; he was quite prepared to look ugly in the nets and the mindset changed,” said Shastri.
Meanwhile, Kohli will not play in the final three Tests against England, the BCCI announced on Saturday. The former India skipper pulled out of the first two games due to personal reasons and was expected to return for the third Test. However, he has decided to skip the last three games as well.