The Virat Kohli era is officially over. Following India's disappointing Test series loss in South Africa, Kohli has decided that he will no longer continue as India's captain in the format, officially bringing down the curtains on the 33-year-old's stint as captain.
Exactly four months after Kohli announced that he will step down as captain of India's T20I side, today he is not in charge of a single format. However, Kohli steps down not only as the country's most successful Test captain, but a lot of other laurels which he can look back proudly upon. As his near seven-year-long time as Test captain comes to an end, we look at the hits and misses from his tenure.
1 Conquering Australia
Adults today, who were kids in the 1990s, would understand how infuriating and frustrating it was to see their beloved India team get drubbed Down Under, and although over the years, India's performance in Australia improved, the hope of winning a series there would be a bridge too far to cross. Then came Kohli, who proved otherwise. The first time he led India in a series in Australia, he did what not team before him had done – beat the mighty Aussies. After India won the opening game in Adelaide, Australia levelled in Perth, where Kohli dazzled with a century. India pulled off a remarkable win at the MCG and drew the final game in Sydney to win a series in Australia for the first time in Australia in 71 years.
2 Almost getting the better of England
Kohli came close to achieving another huge landmark for the country when they had another strong team on the mat. Given India's Test record in England over the last 15 years, not many believed they could pull off another win after the high of Australia in the year, but Kohli's unit did. India played remarkably and admirably to win two Test matches in England – the second Test at Lord's and the fourth at The Oval. And had it not rained on the final day of the first Test, India could have made it 3-1 and captured the series. However, with India leading 2-1, the final match at Manchester was called off at Covid scare, and although the Old Trafford game has been rescheduled for next year, many believe the series is India's and Kohli's. First Australia, then England… mighty impressive.
3 Finishing five years at the top and making Test cricket fun again
Under Kohli, India finished as the No. 1 ranked Test side five years in a row. Who would have imagined that 10 years ago? Kohli had a vision and he stuck to it. Kohli has been highly vocal about his love towards Test cricket and the passion to see it thrive, and throughout his reign, he did his best towards it. Kohli erased draws from Indian cricket – only 11 matches were drawn out of 60 under him. He once famously said: "Even when we are losing, we want to go for a win." Not many have had this approach.
4 Grooming world-class fast bowlers
This had a role to play from former bowling coach Bharat Arun, but he couldn't have done so without the fierce dedication of Kohli. Kohli groomed India into arguably the best bowling attacks in the world. The emergence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj and the coming of age of Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma meant that picking 20 wickets was no more a dream. This pace battery could run through the opposition and they proved it the entire way through. Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa – India's bowlers have done so in SENA nations. Contrary to the late 1990s and early 2000s, where the batting would be the face-saver, today that role has been taken over by India's bowlers
5 Home dominance
Under Kohli, India became home-town bullies. In other words, nearly invincible at home. Forget losing a series at home, from a total of 31 Tests, India lost only 3 at home. This takes his win percentage to an incredible 77.41, while in 37 away games, Kohli managed to win 16. England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka – they all went down and repeatedly. Kohli chance the phrase 'hardly losing at home' to 'never losing at home'… another massive testament to his dynamic skills as leader.
1 Slipping in South Africa
The biggest miss of Kohli's career has to be the just-concluded South Africa series. With the Proteas without Quinton de Kock and Anrich Nortje, this was India's golden opportunity to create history but after excelling in Centurion, they faltered in the next two Tests and Johannesburg and Cape Town to let the chance slip.
2 Getting drubbed in New Zealand
One of India's biggest horror show of late came in early 2020 when the team suffered comprehensive defeats in New Zealand. They lost the series 0-2 and both inside three days. Although the bowlers were able to get 20 wickets, the batsmen including Kohli failed to live up to expectations.
3 World Test Championship final
Kohli and India did such amazing work to reach the final of the inaugural World Test Championship final, but stumbled at the final hurdle. India lost to New Zealand by 8 wickets as Kohli's wait for an ICC trophy extended. Having reached the final of the WTC, only lose the final was a cruel end to the first cycle, which India had aced under Kohli.
4 Late dip in batting form
The first few years of Kohli's batting as captain were dream-like, but the last three years have lot a left to be desired. Kohli's last Test century came in November of 2019, when he scored a hundred in India's first-ever day/night Tests. Kohli went without a century in two entire years, with his batting form taking a hit as well. As compared to his overall batting average as captain, which reads over 54, Kohli in 2020 averaged 19.33 and 28.21 respectively.
5 Fall of Kuldeep
Making an impressive debut in the Dharamsala decider against Australia in 2017 with his 4/68, Kuldeep became an important addition to India's Test line-up. And two years later, following his second career five-wicket haul, in the Sydney Test against Australia, head coach Ravi Shastri hailed him as India's No.1 overseas spinner. However, Kuldeep managed to make the XI in only one match following that Sydney game, against England in Chennai in 2021, where he bowled 12.2 overs returning 0 for 16 and 2 for 25.