There is only one message from the selection of the squad of the Asia Cup. That is, Virat Kohli is the next captain of Team India. Rather than a question of if, it is just a question of when he will take over.
The resting of Virender Sehwag and the elevation of Kohli might quell Viru's captaincy ambitions. With Virat's appointment as vice-captain, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina also seem to be out of the race for the next leader.
It is also tragic that another would-be captain, Yuvraj Singh, is out of action due to lung cancer.
One won't be surprised if Virat is announced as vice-captain for the next Test series too.
It looks like MS Dhoni has received a second lease of life. Virat is not ready to take over immediately, so Dhoni is safe. As long as Virat continues to perform with the bat, Dhoni will always have to be on his toes when it comes to performing as a captain.
Clearly the BCCI is looking at a long-term solution to the captaincy like MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly and M Azharuddin have been in the past.
The right choice...
There is no doubt that Virat is the right choice as the next captain of India. He has the right mixture of aggression, temperament and talent for the job.
He was the captain for the Indian team which won the Under 19 World Cup in 2008 in which he showed tactical acumen.
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He also got his taste of captaincy in the IPL when he was stand-in captain for three RCB matches.
In a Ranji tie, he chose to stay and play despite his father’s death. Being the overnight batsman, he returned the next day surprising everyone to hit a crucial 90. That's a sign of great maturity and commitment.
When he showed his finger to the crowd in Sydney, he could have easily lost it after that moment of aggression. Instead he held his ground and came out with scores of 44, 75 & 116 in the next three innings, which happened to be the highest score by an Indian batsman in each of those innings.
He finally came of age in the Test arena in the Australian Test tour when he emerged as the top run getter in a team of superstars. He is the leading Indian run-scorer in the triangular CB Series too.
Of course his 86-ball 133 that helped India chase down 321 in 36.4 overs is already being seen as one of the best ever.
Where youth succeeds...
This is not the first time a 20 something would be becoming captain of India. MAK Pataudi led team India at the age of 21, which still remains an Indian record. His crowning glory was when he beat New Zealand on their home soil 3-1.
Till date that remains a record. We are yet to win three Tests in a series on foreign soil. We are yet to win a series on foreign soil (against the Top 8 nations) by a margin of two or more Tests.
Pataudi's captaincy remained a world record for 42 years when Tatenda Taibu took over Zimbabwe. It must be said that given the circumstances, Taibu also did a fairly decent job.
Another example of a young captain is Graeme Smith who took the top job at the age of 22. How successful that decision was is borne out by the fact that Smith has captained South Africa to 88 Tests, which is next only to the legendary Allan Border.
Smith won 41 of those Tests and he also took his team to the No. 1 ICC rankings.
Virat is just 23 now and could be 24 when he finally takes over the captaincy.
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That wouldn't be a rare event. When they took charge, Waqar Younis and Javed Miandad were 22; Sachin Tendulkar and Stephen Fleming were 23; Kapil Dev and Ian Botham were 24.
That Dhoni is more than burdened is no secret. He is captain and wicket-keeper in the three international formats of the game along with IPL.
The BCCI by its actions has made it clear that Dhoni is not going to let go of all his responsibilities in a hurry.
Which mantle Virat will inherit from Dhoni seems to be the only question now.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/