Chairman of the senior selection committee of men’s cricket Chetan Sharma was the subject of a sting operation during which he said that former India captain Virat Kohli tried to defame the then BCCI president Sourav Ganguly because he felt the latter was responsible for him losing his ODI captaincy.
In September 2021, Virat Kohli announced his decision to step down as T20 captain after the T20 World Cup in Dubai following which the BCCI stripped him of ODI captaincy in December. The BCCI named Rohit Sharma as the white-ball captain.
Ganguly said that he had asked Kohli not to step down as T20 captain because two-white ball leaders were not ideal.
However, Kohli contradicted Ganguly and said that his decision to give up T20 captaincy was termed as ‘progressive’ by the BCCI when he had informed them of the same. Kohli also said in the pre-departure press conference, ahead of the South Africa tour, that he had been told about his removal as ODI captain just 90 minutes before the selection meeting to pick the Test squad for South Africa.
In the sting operation done by Zee News, Chetan Sharma said that Kohli was told by Ganguly to ‘think once’ before giving up T20I captaincy but the star Indian batsman might have not heard it during video conference.
“Virat Kohli felt he lost the captaincy because of the BCCI President. There were nine people in the selection committee video conference, Ganguly told him ‘think about it once’. I think Kohli didn’t hear it, there were nine others there including myself and all other selectors, BCCI officials,” Sharma was heard saying in the video.
Sharma also said that he felt that there was an ego clash between Ganguly and Kohli. “Two egos clashing, one who is thinking that Ganguly has removed me from the captaincy, so I will teach him a lesson. He (Virat) gave a statement that Ganguly is doing this, basically to defame him. He (Virat) tried to tell this in the media… which backfired on him (Virat),” Chetan Sharma was heard saying in the video.
On December 9, 2021, former India captain Ganguly had said: “We (BCCI) had requested Virat not to step down as T20I captain. There was no plan to change captaincy. But he stepped down as T20I captain and the selectors decided not to split limited-overs captaincy, opting for a complete separation.”
Referring to the BCCI’s decision to hand the reins of the T20I and ODI captaincy to Rohit Sharma, Ganguly had said: “Bottom line is that there can’t be two white-ball captains.”
However, a week later, Kohli during a press conference contradicted Ganguly’s claim.
He had then said, “Before quitting the T20I captaincy, I had approached the BCCI and explained the reasons behind my decision. That was received very well. There was no offence or hesitation. I wasn’t told not to relinquish the T20 captaincy. Rather, it was taken as a progressive step, in the right direction. I communicated at that time that I would like to continue as Test and ODI captain unless the office-bearers and the selectors felt that I shouldn’t carry on with this responsibility. My communication (to the BCCI) was clear,” Kohli had said.
Chetan Sharma added in the sting video, “This is the dispute of the ego. He (Virat) says I am big .He (Ganguly) says I am big. Sourav Ganguly has also been the captain of the country. Very big captain, most trustworthy and he is called the most successful captain even today. Virat feels that he is the most successful.. He (Virat) said he (Ganguly) is lying then there was a confrontation.”
The chairman of selectors was also asked whether there was a rift between Kohli and Sharma.
“There is no battle between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma but there is ego. Both are like big film stars, you can say, Amitabh Bachan and Dharmendra,” he added.
Sharma also revealed how players take injections to fake (clear) their fitness test and also added that current T20 captain Hardik Pandya comes to his place to speak to him often about his future.