Former India opener and two-time IPL champion skipper Gautam Gambhir feels Virat Kohli’s non-performance as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain should lead to his removal from the hot seat as it is now a question of accountability.
Known for his straight-talking, the hero of India’s two World title triumphs made it clear that Kohli’s name as a leader shouldn’t be taken alongside the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, who are IPL’s most successful captains.
Asked if Kohli should be removed from RCB’s captaincy, Gambhir told ‘ ESPNCricinfo ’, “100%, because the problem is about accountability. Eight years into the tournament (without a trophy), eight years is a long time.
“Tell me any other captain forget about captain, tell me any other player who would have got eight years and wouldn’t have won the title and would have still continued with it.
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“So it has to be accountability,” Gambhir, who led KKR to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014, said.
Gambhir has been a staunch critic of Kohli’s IPL leadership over the years but he insisted that there is nothing personal.
“...but somewhere down the line, he needs to put his hand up and say, ‘yes, I am responsible. I am accountable’.”
Gambhir then cited the example of Kings XI Punjab, who didn’t show patience with Ravichandran Ashwin after the veteran off-spinner failed to deliver as captain for just two seasons.
“Eight years is a long, long time. Look at what happened to R Ashwin. Two years of captaincy (for the Kings XI Punjab), he couldn’t deliver and he was removed.”
For someone like Rohit, who is on the cusp of his fifth title, a long stint as Mumbai Indians captain has been only possible because he has delivered, said Gambhir.
“We talk about MS Dhoni, we talk about Rohit Sharma, we talk about Virat Kohli...not at all. Dhoni has won three (IPL) titles, Rohit Sharma has won four titles, and that’s the reason they’ve captained for such a long time because they’ve delivered.
“I’m sure if Rohit Sharma wouldn’t have delivered for eight years, he would have been removed as well. There should not be different yardsticks for different people.”
Gambhir said it irksome to see Kohli’s reluctance to accept that the buck stops at him.
“You’re the leader, you’re the captain. When you get the credit, you should take the criticism as well.”
He even went to the extent of saying that RCB did not deserve to qualify for the play-offs after four successive losses.
“You can keep saying ‘we qualified for the playoffs and we deserved to qualify for the playoffs’, absolutely not. RCB actually never deserved to qualify for the playoffs.”
Gambhir said RCB has increasingly become a side about only two people — Kohli and AB de Villiers.
“And then they should have had a squad, probably if Virat wanted to open, they should have picked a middle-order batter in the auction. But again it was all about Virat and AB (de Villiers).”
It was only de Villiers who came up some match-winning performances to prevent RCB’s season from becoming a total disaster.
“Imagine if AB would have had a bad season, tell me what would have happened to RCB,” Gambhir said.
“He was the one who actually won them two or three games out of seven. I don’t think as a unit they’ve done anything different from what they did last year. It’s exactly the same this year as well.
“Only because you’ve qualified for the playoffs, just because of one individual’s absolute brilliance, it doesn’t make you a strong contender to win the IPL.”