Kohli's captaincy reaches new low, but no sign of change at RCB

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) On a day when Virat Kohli’s captaincy in the Indian Premier League came under fire from former cricketers, there seemed to be no sign of change at the helm of the franchise. The coaching staff comprising Mike Hesson and Simon Katich did not say anything about change in captaincy in their interaction with the media for the 2021 IPL season which could be just five months away.

Kohli, who became RCB skipper in 2013, has had the longest run at helm of a franchise after Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni. However, unlike Dhoni or Rohit Sharma and even Gautam Gambhir he has failed to win a single title. Friday’s defeat to SunRisers Hyderabad in the IPL Eliminator is the eighth season in which RCB have failed to win a title under Kohli’s captaincy.

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Among the four big Indian captains in IPL, he has the lowest success percentage and is the only one among them to have a success rate of below 50%.

Former cricketers Sanjay Manjrekar and Gambhir, while speaking to ESPNCricinfo, called for a change with Gambhir saying that eight years without a title is a long time and that Kohli should quit himself taking responsibility. Manjrekar added that while Kohli won’t quit by himself, the owners of the franchise will have to take the hard decision.

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While both Hesson and Katich said on Saturday that Kohli has led the team well, is very well respected, and invested in the group and, with his wife Anushka Sharma, has spent plenty of time with the group, encouraging the players, the India skipper’s on-field decisions have attracted criticism.

Even as former cricketers Brian Lara and Graeme Swann spoke against him opening the batting against SRH on Friday, Virat went in and in the process shook the batting order with specialist Australian opener Aaron Finnch moved to No. 3.

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The move to open the innings seemed negative as it came after concerns over his slow batting in the middle-overs where he hasn’t scored freely due to slowing surfaces and with Rashid Khan looming in the SRH line-up, he felt he would use the pace in powerplay. Unfortunately for RCB, he was dismissed early.

Kohli’s strike rate this season has been his slowest since he took over regular captaincy in 2013.

“Once he went to open, that changed the whole dynamics and the batting order,” admitted Katich.

Earlier in the tournament, his decision to demote AB de Villiers to No. 6 — just after a match in which he had scored a 33-ball 73 at No.4 — too had attracted criticism as the South African didn’t get enough deliveries to bat and RCB failed to post a possibly winning total and lost the match.

Hesson added that the batting struggled on slower surfaces and the team “got sub-par scores in the last four-five few games” which was not enough for the bowling side.

While some of his decisions like opening the bowling in a game with Mohammed Siraj seemed to have paid off, there seemed to be no excuse for the changes in batting order which according to the coaches was carefully planned with batsmen picked ahead of the season to complement each other.



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