Two in race to succeed Kohli

After Virat Kohli's sudden resignation, the spotlight has turned to his likely successor as India's Test captain, with white-ball skipper Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul favourites to take over the high-pressure job.

Kohli, 33, shocked the cricket-crazy nation last Saturday by stepping down following the team's 1-2 series loss in South Africa.

The star batsman walked away as India's most successful Test leader, with 40 wins and 17 losses in 68 Tests.

"At the moment Rohit and Rahul are the only two names that come to mind to succeed Kohli," a senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) told AFP. "We will have to sit and discuss to come up with Kohli's successor.

"Rohit is already the white-ball captain, so let's see."

Rohit, 34, took over the Twenty20 job from Kohli following India's World Cup exit, and later replaced him as captain in the 50-over format as well.

Rahul led India in the second South Africa Test after Kohli missed the match due to injury.

The 29-year-old will also be captain for the three one-day matches in South Africa which started on Wednesday after Rohit, who is suffering from fitness issues, failed to recover from an injury.

Other names in contention include Rishabh Pant, 24, who scored an unbeaten 100 - albeit for a losing cause - in the third Test in Cape Town.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar told India Today the wicketkeeper-batsman should be considered.

"Tiger Pataudi was captain at the age of 21 under adverse circumstances but look what he did. He took to it like a duck to water," Gavaskar said. "Pant has the capability of taking Indian cricket forward and making it a very exciting team to watch."

TV commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted on Monday that Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah should also be considered.

Kohli's Test team gave India some unforgettable memories, including their first series win in Australia in 2019 and a long run as the world's top-ranked team.

But a world title remained elusive for the captain despite reaching the final of the inaugural Test championship, which they lost to New Zealand.

The outspoken and sometimes combative Kohli's resignation stoked talks about a rift with BCCI officials.

Kohli and BCCI chief Saurav Ganguly in December publicly contradicted each other over his stepping down as white-ball captain.

The Hindustan Times reported that Kohli spurned an offer by the BCCI to quit with fanfare after his 100th Test in Bengaluru next month when India host Sri Lanka.

"I think clearly there was disenchantment between Kohli and the authorities," veteran cricket journalist Ayaz Memon told AFP.

"You don't need any statement, you can sense it from the manner he gave up the T20 captaincy and then the ODI captaincy was taken away from him."

Tributes poured in for the world's leading batsman, who is expected to play his 100th Test against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru next month.

"Congrats @imVkohli on what you and your team has achieved under your leadership and thank you for supporting test cricket so passionately," Australian legend Shane Warne wrote on Twitter.

West Indies great Viv Richards also lauded Kohli's "stunning run" at the helm. "For sure, your name will be up there among the best leaders in world cricket," he wrote.

Ganguly said Kohli would "continue to be a very important member" of the India team.

"Under his leadership, the Indian cricket team has made rapid strides in all formats of the game," said Ganguly.

"Every good thing comes to an end and this has been a very good one."

Indian cricket icon Kapil Dev felt that Kohli needs to shed his ego to play under a new leader.

"Even Sunil Gavaskar played under me. I played under K. Srikkanth and (Mohammad) Azharuddin. I had no ego," Kapil, 63, told Mid-Day, referring to other greats of the era.

"Virat will have to give up his ego and play under a young cricketer. This will help him and Indian cricket. Virat should guide the new captain, new players. We cannot lose Virat, the batsman... no way."

AFP, Reuters

"Virat will have to give up his ego and play under a young cricketer. This will help him and Indian cricket."

- India's World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev

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