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'Nobody's Place is Fixed': Ex-Indian Cricketer Hits Out at Captain Virat Kohli Over Selection Policy

Virat Kohli of India celebrates his century during the 3rd ODI match between West Indies and India at Queens Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on August 14, 2019
© AP Photo / RANDY BROOKS

Mohammad Kaif is not the first cricketer to have slammed India cricket captain Virat Kohli for his choice of players in international matches. Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, former explosive batsman Virender Sehwag, and Test opener Gautam Gambhir have all been critical of Kohli's selection policy in the past.

Former cricketer and hero of India's historic NatWest Trophy triumph Mohammad Kaif has raised questions about Indian skipper Virat Kohli's constant changes in the playing eleven, especially when the games are played overseas.

It has been noticed several times in the past that Kohli frequently changes his playing XI and never sticks to the same set of cricketers in a series.

"There is no clarity in this Indian team and we need to accept it. Virat Kohli doesn't play this way. He sees who is the most in-form player and picks him in the XI", Kaif told Indian media. "This is Kohli's way. At the end of the day you need to judge how many trophies he has won as a captain and he hasn't been able to win an ICC trophy", he added.

"This team and this management do not give as much importance to past performance. Virat Kohli focuses on what form you are in at the current point. This is why Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan got opportunities. This is why Shikhar Dhawan missed a few games, Rohit Sharma was rested", Kaif observed.

"No one's place is fixed in this team and even the players know that. This is an old discussion now, and even the players have moved on now and have decided this is the way to go", he said.

Former cricketers have been particularly critical of Kohli's policy of tinkering with his playing XI, even when the team is winning matches. At times, it has bemused the greats of the game, who don't understand his logic behind changing a winning combination.

Quite often, Kohli's chopping and changes in the team have cost India dearly, leading to defeat in crucial matches, which have been played outside the subcontinent.

In 2019, ex-India captain Sunil Gavaskar trained his guns at Kohli for not including off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in his Test eleven during a series against Australia.

"You don't become ICC's No. 1 Test bowler for nothing. He has the ability to pick wickets anywhere in the world. The team management has to understand this and back him", Gavaskar said at that time.

"I remember last year in South Africa, Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up a lot of wickets in the first Test, he really swung the ball but he was dropped for the next Test. Selection has to be in such a way that the confidence of the player is not down", he opined.

A year earlier, former India opener Virender Sehwag launched a scathing attack on Kohli for his on-field decisions.

"I think, Virat Kohli needs some players who can point out his mistakes on the field. Every team has four-five players who advise the skipper and help him avoid mistakes on the field. I don't see that in the current Indian squad", Sehwag said.

"There's no one in the squad who can challenge Kohli's selection decision in the dressing room. No player is up to his standard", he added.

However, former India pacer Sanjiv Sharma dubbed Mohammad Kaif's remarks against Kohli as "harsh".

"Virat Kohli has done a great job as India captain, otherwise the team wouldn't have reached the finals of so many ICC events, including the ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC World Test Championship", he told Sputnik on Friday. "People tend to forget that under his leadership India reached the No. 1 ranking in both Tests and ODIs and India was the top-ranked side in the longest format for almost four years".

"According to me, Virat should continue as India captain because his record as captain in all three formats is phenomenal. His captaincy has been quite impressive in Tests as a bad skipper would have never won the amount of matches he has won for India", he concluded.

With 36 triumphs in 61 Test matches, Kohli is India's most successful captain.

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