Virat Kohli has “unsettled” his Royal Challengers Bangalore team by announcing that he will stand down as captain at the end of the Indian Premier League season, former top players said.
Kohli made public just hours before Bangalore’s first game in the resumed IPL on Monday that he will be handing over the team leadership.
That came only days after telling India fans that he would be giving up as India’s Twenty20 captain after the World Cup, which starts next month.
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir said Kohli’s timing had surprised him and would not help Bangalore’s quest for a first IPL title. Monday’s match against Kolkata Knight Riders in the United Arab Emirates will be Kohli’s 200th for Bangalore.
“If you want to do that, you probably do it after the tournament,” Gambhir said on Star Sports. “Because it makes the team unsettled and emotional as well.”
Former batsman Sanjay Manjrekar also questioned the timing. “I am just curious about both the announcements as to why he had to do it before the tournaments,” Manjrekar told the ESPNcricinfo website.
Kohli was made Bangalore’s captain in 2013, but despite his superstar status, the team’s best finish was losing in the 2016 final. Kohli insisted his decision had been “well thought (out) and in the best interest of this wonderful franchise”. South Africa’s Dale Steyn said the move away from T20 duties could work in favour of the 32-year-old batsman, who became a father in January.
“As life goes on you start to prioritise things. He has got a young family and captaincy can weigh heavily on the brain,” said Steyn, who played with Kohli at Bangalore. “Maybe relinquishing a little bit of that responsibility and being able to focus on just his batting is a good decision at this time of his career.”
Kohli’s leadership has faced mounting scrutiny in recent months. His record without a title is often compared to India’s vice captain Rohit Sharma, who has secured five IPL crowns for holders Mumbai Indians.
Sharma is the frontrunner to succeed Kohli as India’s T20 captain.