India’s most successful skipper in the longest format of the game, Virat Kohli dropped a bombshell on Saturday by quitting Test captaincy following his team's series defeat to South Africa.
Kohli, who had already relinquished the leadership role in T20Is earlier and was succeeded by Rohit Sharma as captain in ODIs, led the Indian team for the final time in the longest format of the game in the series against South Africa, which ended earlier this week.
Now, head coach Rahul Dravid has much work to do in order to create a solid unit which can win on both at home and overseas conditions.
The 33-year-old Kohli holds the record for most Test appearances as India Test captain (68) and he also holds the record for most Test wins by an Indian captain (40). Only Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Waugh have won more matches than Kohli as captain in Test cricket.
Kohli had first led the side in Test cricket in 2014 against Australia. His last game as captain was the Cape Town Test in South Africa, which India lost by seven wickets. Now, Kohli has departed as skipper so it needs to be asked if not Virat, then who as the skipper of the Test side?
It is safe to say that Rohit Sharma is the frontrunner to be the Test captain as he was named the vice-captain for the South Africa Tests, but injury ruled him out and KL Rahul had to step in as the deputy. Over the past year, the right-handed batter showed great grit and determination with the bat and everyone knows about what he can bring as a captain.
However, Rohit's fitness has been an issue and it needs to be seen whether the selectors want to give a 34-year-old the reign of all three formats or do they want to look at the future and think of a long-term prospect. The second option is KL Rahul, who recently led Team India in the second Test against South Africa in the absence of Kohli. Rahul has also shown great determination with the bat at the top of the order in overseas conditions but one thing with Rahul is that his batting can hit a rough patch all of a sudden.
And when the batter hits a lull patch, getting out of it has become tough for Rahul and this can act against Rahul. His leadership record for Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is not that great -- 15 losses in 27 games. Another prospect is Rishabh Pant and the selectors can look at the wicketkeeper-batter if they want to look at the future.
Pant showed a great cricketing brain while leading the Delhi Capitals and with age being on his side, the 24-year-old can emerge as a good choice. Now, this is where the role of head coach Rahul Dravid will come in as Team India looks set for a transition.
Speaking before Cape Town, Virat Kohli had said that transition cannot be forced and it tends to happen naturally. However, with Kohli stepping down and the poor form of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, it is fair to say that the transition has been forced.
The era of Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli has come to an end, and now it needs to be seen whether Dravid can create another impeccable unit that can win on both at home and overseas conditions. Pujara and Rahane's form does not make it easy for Dravid as the head coach also needs to look at probable replacements for the duo.
Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Suryakumar Yadav, and Shubman Gill are the four probable suspects that can come into the playing XI to replace Pujara and Rahane. This will make Kohli the most experienced batter in the lineup, and it is fair to say that he would have to lead the batting unit despite not being the "designated leader".
In the end, it is fair to say that Dravid's tenure coach could not have gotten to a more rocky start, and if the former India batter was known for his resilience in the field, it is the same quality, the new coach has to show in order to take the team through some testing times.