Weekly sports newsletter: Why Kohli and Rohit are like partners in a three-legged race

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For a sport that developed on the royal towers in the former princely states, palace intrigues are institutionally devoted to Indian cricket. The players have been used as pawns from the days when the flannel Maharajas did not follow the bat rules until dusk until the present time when the Prince of Kolkata is the chairman of the board of directors most influential world.

In the never-ending drama of Indian cricket this week, the plot thickened. A few days after the new coach took charge of this team in transition came the turning point for the succession. The timing was almost theatrical. It was the slow rise of classic melodrama, written by a skilled daily soap opera writer. It was a pot on high heat. Here is a link to the inner story of this fascinating new episode.

The cast of interwoven characters made this wheel-to-wheel saga a voyeur’s delight.

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First there is Virat Kohil, the iconic skipper with a somewhat dull aura. In second place is Rohit Sharma, his promising successor with proven leadership credentials.. Among the makers is a gaming legend. Sourav Ganguly, a charismatic captain in his day, got what he wanted when he was a player. It’s history. As president of the BCCI, he is not that powerful. It is an open secret that no file circulates in the BCCI without the assent of the real decision-maker of the Indian council – the secretary Jay Shah, son of the Minister of the Interior Amit Shah.

There are more layers of complexity.

The new coach of the team soon to witness a change of generation – read Shamik Chakrabarty’s report on alumni Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara on the time borrowed for the next tour of South Africa – is ex-skipper Rahul Dravid. He too has a past and a story that features an anguished young Ganguly.

It was during Dravid’s reign as captain that Ganguly was unceremoniously seen showing the door. He didn’t just lose his captain rank; Ganguly even lost his place on the side. Years later, in the book “A Century Is Not Enough”, Ganguly wrote: “Rahul returned from the selection meeting. He pulled me aside in the locker room and said, ‘Sourav, sorry you’re not on the team.’ I was appalled. Regarding his unexpected dumping, he would add: “To say that it was a travesty of justice would be an understatement. “

However, the bitterness between the two did not last. Ganguly would make a famous comeback. Upon his return with most of the slots occupied, the team’s leadership, read Dravid and Greg Chappell, would give Ganguly the first slot in Tests. The day before the match, Dravid would have doubts, he would intervene. Back to the book. “Dravid was a purist. Especially in trial cricket. He always approached a game in the most classic way. He and Greg told me that since I was planning a comeback, sending me up front would send the wrong signal. People might think I was unjustly sacrificed.

Dravid, in the book, would come out brilliant. The real villain of the play, according to Ganguly, was Chappell. Dravid was his old pal, the one who called him the “God of the offside,” the calming influence on the non-attacking side when he scored a Hundred in his test debut at Lord’s.

So it’s no surprise that when India needed Ravi Shastri’s replacement as manager, Ganguly, now president, reached out to Dravid. Some have said that Anil Kumble’s lousy start would see his longtime friend and Karnataka teammate turn down the head coach’s offer. But with Ganguly at the helm and watching his rear, Dravid would sign up. They had their differences. It didn’t matter. They go back a long way and have a mutual respect for life. Just like Kohli and Rohit.

At the time, when the two skippers present were still struggling to find a place in the Indian team, I met Rohit one winter evening in Delhi. The national match in which he was participating was long overdue. After his recovery routine, the next big Mumbai drummer of the time would come out of the locker room for the promised interview. It was getting dark. From a distance, Kohli waited for the interaction to end. The two had plans for the evening. After the long interview, during which a restless Kohli had started his descent from the stadium, I had asked Rohit how the two young players, fighting for the same place in the Indian middle order, could be friends. With that half-smile and wave to his waiting mate, Rohit congratulated Kohli the drummer. He said in sports things are simple. Whoever played the best would get the break. And with his characteristic shrug and in a tone betraying his conviction, Rohit had made a memorable farewell remark. “Such things have never had an impact on my friendships,” he said.

Even a few years ago, Kohli, in a delightful interview with host Gaurav Kapur on “Breakfast with Champions”, painted an endearing picture of his charming and distracted and outrageously funny companion. He was being honest about the pangs of jealousy he faced as they were both budding cricketers with big dreams and the world would praise Rohit to the heavens. “I was curious because everyone was talking about this player called Rohit Sharma. I was very curious because I was also a young player, but no one was talking about me. Then during the T20 World Cup (2007) I saw him beat, I just collapsed on the sofa. It closed my mouth forever. Check on YouTube, that “forever” has a conviction, the same one that was evident in Rohit’s tone on that wintry evening in Delhi.

Of course, over time, as the stakes rise and the voices influencing you change, the equations and relationships don’t stay the same. But both have been around long enough to know that their legacy as captain depends on each other, like two mates running a three-legged race. The success of Kohli’s test will depend on the good performance of Rohit, the opener. And conversely, if Rohit wants to wield a limited ICC trophy, he would pray for the success of the top batsman on his team. Plus, there’s always Dravid to remind them that those who play team sport forgive, forget and move on.

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Sandeep Dwivedi

National sports editor

Indian express


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