As he chases an elusive first major championship at the World Cup, Virat Kohli will be hoping for a fairytale conclusion to his leadership of India’s Twenty20 side.
Kohli, 32, will step down as T20 captain following the start of the 16-nation competition in the United Arab Emirates and Oman on Sunday.
The prodigious run-scorer has also stepped down as captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, and many have applauded his choice to focus more on his batting.
As their wait for victory grew in recent months, Kohli became the subject of increasing suspicion.
Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan believes Kohli will be able to go into the World Cup, which begins on October 24, with minimal pressure, which will be beneficial to the squad. “I believe he will enjoy his cricket more now that he has made this decision,” Pathan, who was instrumental in India’s first T20 World Cup victory in 2007, told AFP.
“With the side, the confidence, and the experience they have, India will do well.”
Kohli took over as captain in all formats when M.S. Dhoni stepped down as limited-overs captain in 2017. Since then, India has failed to win a World Cup or a Champions Trophy.
Kohli will still have Dhoni by his side as the team mentor for the competition. Dhoni-led India to the T20 title in 2007 and the 50-over gold in 2011.
When Dhoni’s squad won the maiden world T20 title in Johannesburg, Kohli was on his way to making his India debut.
The victory sparked a T20 craze across South Asia, resulting in the establishment of the IPL in 2008.
Kohli quickly established his own brand of cricket after making his ODI debut in 2008, but he has been criticized for his failure to win a worldwide crown.
Despite Kohli’s unbeaten 89 in 2016, India, the hosts and led by Dhoni, fell in the semi-finals against eventual victors West Indies.
Three years later, under Kohli, India lost in the final four of the ODI World Cup.
Along with holders West Indies and Eoin Morgan’s England, India remains one of the favourites to win the T20 title in Dubai on November 14.
In Group B, India will face off against old rivals Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, and two other qualifying nations in the hopes of advancing to the semi-finals.
“I always want India to win,” Pathan said, “but the West Indies will be one of the favourites.”
“England, Australia, and Pakistan all have strong offences, and you can never rule out Pakistan.” The World Cup will be quite competitive.”
All 15 members of the Indian squad, as well as three standby players, have been in the UAE for over a month, working with their respective IPL clubs to become used to the surfaces in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. Rohit Sharma, the swashbuckling opener, is largely expected to succeed Kohli as a T20 skipper and will be crucial to the team’s success.
The top-order batting spearhead will be completed by K.L. Rahul and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, while Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah will lead the pace attack.