With Team India’s crucial ICC Champions Trophy group-stage opener against Pakistan just a couple of days away, reports have emerged that India captain Virat Kohli walked out on head coach Anil Kumble, during a practice session near the Edgebaston Cricket Ground, in Birmingham, on Thursday.
According to Bangalore Mirror, post the warm-up game against Bangladesh at the Oval on Tuesday evening, there were scenes of cold vibes between the two at the nets. As Kumble approached the nets with the side-arm, Kohli walked away. It added more fuel to the speculative fire on their relationship. Things were exposed to a situation where everyone had the license to interpret things in one’s own way. It has become a free ride for assumption.
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Kohli and Kumble are said to have been at loggerheads since the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia, which the former clinched 2-1.
However, according reports, the two had fallen out over the team selection during the third Test, in Ranchi. Although Kuldeep Yadav, who Kumble was backing to be included in the XI, was not picked for the Ranchi Test, he made his debut in the Dharamsala Test, where Ajinkya Rahane led the team in the absence of the injured Kohli.
Certain reports have also suggested that Kohli was not too happy with Kumble’s iron-fisted approach to team management. With Kumble’s contract coming to an end after the end of the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy in England, the BCCI had invited applications for the head coach job, the deadline for which, closed on Wednesday, May 31. The likes of Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Lalchand Rajput, Dodda Ganesh, and Richard Pybus are said to have sent in their applications, while Kumble gets a direct entry into the application process.
The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) is trying to broker peace between Kumble and Kohli but the differences are “almost irrevocable”.
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This kind of atmosphere reminds one about the terrible Greg Chappel era. However, in this case, it seems that Virat Kohli is indeed acting like a ‘spoilt kid’ as this kind of attitude is not right for any dressing room. Anil Kumble did prove that he was right when Kuldeep Yadav made an impactful debut. Virat Kohli cannot accept that he himself was wrong. It can be argues that Kohli is trying to make place for certain players irrespective of performances and that is just not done. We all know favouritism exists in the Indian camp but it is quite plausible that Kumble’s attempts to remove favouritism has not gone down well with the skipper and some of the players.
However, at the brink of such an important tournament, the last thing India could have hoped for is a rift between the coach and the skipper. It just doesn’t augur well for the team and they should sort out their differences as soon as possible. While the alleged walk-out may have been nothing more than Kohli being disappointed about the training facilities adjacent to Edgebaston, it remains to be seen how this entire saga affects the morale of the Indian cricket team, ahead of their crucial Champions Trophy opener against arch-rivals Pakistan.