Ask anybody in the Delhi cricketing circle, he would vouch for the fact that Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir are not the best of pals. Time and again, Gambhir has not pulled back any punch while taking swipes at the Indian cricket captain, though Kohli has maintained a studied silence. And now, Gambhir has asked for Kohli’s removal as the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper after their defeat to SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Eliminator.
Speaking to a website, he said, “Eight years is a long, long time. Look at what happened to R Ashwin. Two years of captaincy (for the Kings XI Punjab), he couldn’t deliver and he was removed. We talk about MS Dhoni, we talk about Rohit Sharma, we talk about Virat Kohli…not at all. Dhoni has won three (IPL) titles, Rohit Sharma has won four titles, and that’s the reason they’ve captained for such a long time because they’ve delivered. I’m sure if Rohit Sharma wouldn’t have delivered for eight years, he would have been removed as well. There should not be different yardsticks for different people.”
In one sense, you cannot refute Gambhir’s viewpoint, since Kohli has been given too long a rope of eight years without a single title. Some of his strategies during the course of the tournament have been baffling too including his decision to open the batting all of a sudden in the Eliminator. And Gambhir who never minces a word has not hesitated to take swipes at his former India teammate. “There was so much talk about Virat Kohli opening the batting, if you wanted to open the batting, you should have done that right from the start of the tournament. And then they should have had a squad, probably if Virat wanted to open, they should have picked a middle-order batter in the auction. But again it was all about Virat and AB (de Villiers),” he said.
Gambhir is also of the opinion that Kohli should be held accountable for his failure. “The problem and the accountability start from the top, not from the management nor the support staff, but from the leader. You’re the leader, you’re the captain. When you get the credit, you should take the criticism as well,” Gambhir told ESPNcricinfo adding, “Eight years is a long time. It’s not that Kohli isn’t experienced. He captains India, he captains whichever team he plays for, but you’ve got to give results, you’ve got to deliver. Sport is all about delivering.”
The southpaw feels that RCB never deserved to be in the Playoffs in the first place, “You can keep saying ‘We qualified for the playoffs and we deserved to qualify for the playoffs’, absolutely not. RCB actually never deserved to qualify for the playoffs. If you see the last four or five games, and even that one Super Over against Mumbai Indians, they were very fortunate that Navdeep Saini bowled that over brilliantly. Otherwise they didn’t have a great season. From the batting point of view and the bowling.”
It remains to be seen how the RCB management goes about things after the team’s ouster from this year’s IPL. But one thing for sure Gambhir who led Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to two IPL wins, has set the ball rolling.