NEW DELHI (AFP) - Swashbuckling superstar batsman Virat Kohli often courted controversy during his seven-year innings as India s Test captain but took the team to unprecedented heights before resigning from the role on Saturday.
Under him a team ranked seventh when he was appointed rose to the top of the world Test rankings, notching a first-ever series win in Australia in 2019. But they lost 2-0 in New Zealand in 2020, going down to the Black Caps again in last year s World Test Championship final.
Earlier this week he was seen talking to the stump microphone at Cape Town in an angry outburst at a DRS call as India lost the series to South Africa 2-1.
Kohli was named Test skipper -- one of India s highest-profile positions -- in 2014, becoming captain across all formats three years later. He had giant shoes to fill with his predecessor MS Dhoni leading India to two World Cup titles. But the middle-class Delhi man built a reputation for in-your-face aggression and exemplary batting, earning comparisons with the great Sachin Tendulkar.
The Australian Test series triumph underlined his leadership skills in the longest format of the game. Dubbed King Kohli by Indian media, he finishes with 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests as captain -- the best percentage of any Indian skipper. "Virat, you can go with your head held high," said former India all-rounder and coach Ravi Shastri, who stepped down as coach after the T20 World Cup.
"Few have achieved what you have as captain. "Definitely India s most aggressive and successful." But Kohli s inability to win a world title remained a persistent target of critics who slammed his leadership skills in the limited-overs format. India s cricket chief Sourav Ganguly called the team s Twenty20 World Cup performance last year as the "poorest" after they failed to make the semi-finals.
Kohli decided to quit the T20 job after the World Cup and was soon removed as the ODI captain as well, with Rohit Sharma taking over the white-ball duties. After India s exit in the 2019 ODI World Cup semi-finals against New Zealand Kohli said "45 minutes of bad cricket knocked us out". But he had little defence to offer for the debacle in the T20 World Cup when they lost two straight games to arch-rivals Pakistan and New Zealand.
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Kohli led from the front with his attacking batting and was never shy of expressing himself on the field, with many run-ins with opposition players. He once stopped just short of calling Steve Smith a cheat after the Australia skipper looked up to his dressing room for advice on a DRS call and Kohli was not amused.
Kohli took fitness to another level and was responsible for making India a team of fast bowlers who performed at home and overseas. The likes of Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma became a force to be reckoned with in world cricket.
Now Kohli will look to improve his batting, which has seen a run of poor form recently, as he prepares for what is expected to be his 100th Test against Sri Lanka next month. "It s been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance every day," he said in his Twitter announcement he was quitting. "I ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there."