Virat Kohli quits as India Test captain

Announcement by star batsman comes hot-on-heels of series defeat by South Africa

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Virat Kohli has stepped down as captain of the India Test side following their series defeat by South Africa.

The 33-year-old first led his country in red-ball cricket temporarily during the winter tour of Australia in 2014 before he permanently took the reins from MS Dhoni at the end of the series.

During his tenure as India’s Test captain, Kohli helped them become the number one side in the ICC Test rankings and saw them finish runners-up in the World Test Championship Final last summer.

“It’s been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance every day to take the team in the right direction,” Kohli posted on Twitter.

“I’ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there. Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, it’s now.

“There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey, but never has there been a lack of effort or lack of belief.

“I have always believed in giving my 120 per cent in everything I do, and if I can’t do that, I know it’s not the right thing to do. I have absolutely clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team.”

The India batter relinquished the Twenty20 captaincy after the T20 World Cup in November and was also replaced as one-day skipper by Rohit Sharma last month.

Kohli was in charge of India’s red-ball team on 68 occasions, winning 40 matches but he signed off following a 2-1 series loss at home to South Africa this week.

Kohli's major wins as captain included victory over Australia in 2018-19 - India's first series win Down Under and one that Kohli at the time described as the "proudest" moment of his career.

He also led India to a 2-1 away series win over England last summer, with the final match at Old Trafford being cancelled due to Covid-19.

Kohli added: “I want to thank the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] for giving me the opportunity to lead my country for such a long period of time and more importantly to all the teammates who bought into the vision I had for the team from day one and never gave up in any situation. You guys have made this journey so memorable and beautiful.

“To Ravi Bhai [Shastri] and the support group who were the engine behind this vehicle that moved us upwards in Test cricket consistently, you all have played a massive role in bringing this vision to life.

“Lastly, a big thank you to MS Dhoni who believed in me as captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian cricket forward.”

Kohli has played 99 Tests and scored 7,962 runs at an average of 50.39. He has hit 27 Test centuries but not passed three figures in red-ball cricket for his country since November 2019, a run of 15 matches and 27 innings.

“BCCI congratulates Virat Kohli for his admirable leadership qualities that took the Test team to unprecedented heights,” said a BCCI statement. “He led India in 68 matches and has been the most successful captain with 40 wins.”

No announcement has been made about who will take over as India's next captain, although opener KL Rahul's name has already started doing the rounds.

The board's secretary Jay Shah wrote on Twitter after Kohli's surprise announcement: “Virat turned the team into a ruthless fit unit that performed admirably both in India and away. The Test wins in Australia & England have been special.”

Updated: January 15, 2022, 3:19 PM