Published On: Wed, Dec 15th, 2021

Came to know about captaincy removal hours before selection meeting: Kohli

Mumbai: India Test captain Virat Kohli quashed the chatter around his availability for the ODIs against South Africa, saying “I was always available”.

The chief selector discussed with me the Test team, to which we both agreed

His comments dismissed the talk of him not taking part in the ODI series against South Africa which would follow after the three Tests, especially after Rohit Sharma was named the white-ball captain.

“I was and I am available for selection all this time. You should not be asking me this question, honestly. This question should be asked to people who are writing about these things and their sources, because as far as I’m concerned, I was always available,” said Kohli in the pre-departure virtual press conference on Wednesday.

“I have not had any communication with the BCCI saying I want to rest, so there were a few things that came out in the past as well that it was said I was attending some events or something that was absolutely not true either. All these people who are writing these things and their sources, to me they’re absolutely not credible. As I said, I am available for selection for the ODIs in South Africa and I’m always keen to play,” added Kohli.

The 33-year-old informed that he came to know about his removal as the ODI captain during the meeting happened to discuss the Test squad for the series against South Africa.

“I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on the eighth (Dec 8) for the Test series. There was no prior communication to me at all since I announced the T20I captaincy decision until the 8th of December, where I got a call before the selection meeting.

“The chief selector discussed with me the Test team, to which we both agreed. And before ending the call, I was told the five selectors have decided I will not be the ODI captain, to which I replied, ‘okay, fine’, and in the selection call afterwards, we chatted about it briefly. That’s what happened. There was no communication prior to that at all.”

Kohli also denied talk of an alleged rift with Sharma, his deputy in Test cricket who is out of the series due to a left hamstring injury.

“I have no problems with Rohit. I’ve been clarifying this for the last two years. I’m really tired of it. Any action or communication from me will never be to demean the team. I’m committed to Indian cricket. My responsibility is to push the team in the right direction.

“Rohit is a very able captain and tactically very sound and we have seen it in the IPL as well as for India. Along with Rahul (Dravid) bhai, who is a great man manager, they will get my 100 per cent support in ODIs and T20Is.”

Kohli signed off by saying that there will be no drop in his motivation levels during the series, especially when the ODIs will be happening.

“I have done the best I could. My motivation level to perform for the team will never dip. As captain, I have been honest to my responsibilities and have been absolutely honest to the job. Batting, of course, when you have done this for a long time at the international level, you know how to perform. Nothing can derail me from playing for India. Nothing can derail me from being motivated to play for India.”

India will leave for South Africa on December 16 to take part in the series comprising three Tests and as many ODIs from December 26 to January 23.

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