Virat Kohli says he was given 90 minutes notice of sacking | Sport

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Virat Kohli of India. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Virat Kohli said on Wednesday he was told only 90 minutes before the
official announcement that he had been sacked as India’s one-day
captain.

Kohli quit as T20 skipper after the recent World Cup and
last week lost the ODI job too, with India’s cricket board saying it
wanted Rohit Sharma to lead in both white-ball formats.

The
surprise announcement came in one line at the bottom of a press release
by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) about the Test squad
for the upcoming tour of South Africa.

“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 to me at all,” Kohli told reporters
Wednesday ahead of the team’s departure for South Africa, where they
will play three Tests and three ODIs.

“Before ending the call I
was told that the five selectors had decided that I would not be the ODI
captain, to which I replied, ‘ok fine’,” the 33-year-old said.

Kohli
will still captain India in the Tests in South Africa but press reports
suggested that he had decided to skip the subsequent ODI series in a
huff.

But Kohli denied this, telling reporters Wednesday that he
“was and am available for selection” and hit out at sections of the
media for “writing lies”.

“Nothing can derail me from being
motivated to play for India,” he said. “I am very focused and mentally
prepared and very excited to go to South Africa and do the best that I
can for my team.”

Kohli said he would support “100 percent” Rohit
and new manager Rahul Dravid, calling him a “very balanced coach” and a
“great man-manager”.

“Rohit is a very able captain and very, very
tactically sound. We have seen that in the games that he captained for
India and in the IPL as well,” Kohli said.

‘Toughest conditions’

India
have never won a Test series in South Africa, but Kohli said the
visitors were motivated by the fact that the last Test they played
there, in Johannesburg in 2018, they won.

“We probably won in the
toughest conditions in that tour, so that should give us a lot of
confidence that if we have the right mindset and we start out the series
with a lot of confidence, we can definitely stand up to any challenge
that comes our way,” Kohli said.

“South Africa is one place where
we have not won a series yet. We are very motivated to do that and the
mindset is always [to] go out there and win a series in any country that
we play. We don’t anymore just think of winning a Test match in India,”
he added.

This year India beat Australia 2-1 Down Under – albeit
in Kohli’s absence apart from the first Test – and were 2-1 up in
England before the tour was called off because of the pandemic.

Last
week in India, they thrashed New Zealand by 372 runs to win the series
1-0, avenging their loss to the Black Caps in the inaugural World Test
Championship final in England in June.

“South Africa presents a
different kind of challenge. The wickets present a lot of pace and
bounce and you need to be at your absolute best to be able to perform
there and get runs,” Kohli said.

“I think we are very well placed
in terms of experience and belief and confidence that this time around
we can do something special and get the results that we want as a team.”



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