Virat Kohli will be looking for a fairytale ending for his leadership with India’s Twenty20 squad as he pursues an elusive first major World Cup title.
Kohli, 32, will step down as T20 skipper after the 16 Nations tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman which begins on Sunday.
The prolific goalscorer has also resigned as captain of India’s Premier League team Royal Challengers Bangalore and many have welcomed his decision to focus more on his stick.
Kohli had been at the center of growing speculation in recent months as the expectation of success increased.
Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has said Kohli can take part in the World Cup, which will start for them against Pakistan on October 24, without pressure and it will be good for the team.
“I think he will enjoy his cricket more now after making this decision,” Pathan, who played a key role in India’s inaugural T20 World Cup triumph in 2007, told AFP.
“India will do well with the team, the confidence and the experience they have.”
Kohli became captain in all formats after MS Dhoni relinquished his limited leadership in 2017. But India has not won a World Cup or Champions Trophy since.
Kohli will always have Dhoni by his side as the former captain, who led India to the T20 title in 2007 and the 50+ crown in 2011, is the team’s mentor for the tournament.
Kohli was getting closer to his debut in India when Dhoni’s side made history by winning the first T20 world title in Johannesburg.
Competitive world cup
The triumph sparked a T20 boom across South Asia and led to the birth of the
After making his ODI debut in 2008, Kohli quickly established his own brand of cricket, but had to deal with the pressure of his failure to win a world title.
Host nation India led by Dhoni lost in the semifinals to future winners West Indies despite an unbeaten 89 by Kohli in 2016.
India also lost in the last four three years later, under Kohli, at the ODI World Cup.
India remain one of the favorites to lift the T20 trophy in Dubai on November 14 alongside West Indies and England holders Eoin Morgan.
Launched against former rivals Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and two other qualifying teams in Group B, India is hoping to climb smoothly into the semi-finals.
“I will always want India to win, but the West Indies will be one of the favorites,” Pathan added.
“England and Australia all have good attacks and you can never count on Pakistan. It will be a very, very competitive World Cup.”
The 15 members of the Indian squad and the three reserve players have been in the UAE for over a month with their IPL teams getting used to the pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Swashbuckling opener Rohit Sharma is widely seen as Kohli’s successor as T20 captain and will be key to the team’s chances as well.
Fit KL Rahul and batting goaltender Rishabh Pant round out the top hitting spearhead while Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah lead the attack to the beat.