In a lengthy post on Instagram, Sharma reminisced about Kohli’s seven-year journey as the Test cricket captain. He first led India in Test cricket temporarily during the winter tour of Australia in 2014 before he permanently took the reins from MS Dhoni at the end of the series.
“I remember the day in 2014 when you told me that you have been made the captain as MS [Dhoni] had decided to retire from test cricket. I remember MS, you & I having a chat later that day & him joking about how quickly your beard will start turning grey. We all had a good laugh about it,” Sharma said.
The 33-year-old celebrity wife of the cricketer, who has often been seen cheering for the team from the stands, recalled the challenges that Kohli faced, not necessarily always on the field, and lauded him for his “immense growth”.
“Since that day, I’ve seen more than just your beard turning grey. I’ve seen growth. Immense growth. Around you & within you,” she said.
She added: “And yes, I am very proud of your growth as the captain of the Indian National Cricket team & what achievements the team had under your leadership. But I’m more proud of the growth you achieved within you.”
Kohli, the most successful Indian skipper with 40 victories in 68 matches, dropped the bombshell announcement on Saturday: “Everything has to end at some stage and for me as Test Captain of India, it’s now.”
During his tenure, the 33-year-old helped India get to the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings.
His decision to quit the captaincy came a day after India lost its Test series 2-1 to South Africa. Going into the series, India was the favourite, with many predicting its maiden Test win against the Proteas.
Sharma hailed Kohli for “standing up for doing the right thing” and said pretense was his foe, while describing him as “unconventional and straightforward”.
She said he “gave winning on field every ounce of your energy”, to the extent that after “some losses I’ve sat next to you with tears in your eyes, while you wondered if there’s still something more you could have done”.
The NH10 and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil actor’s tribute followed an outpour of love and support from people across the sports world and public figures who congratulated him for his successful stint.
His biggest backer, former Indian coach and cricketer Ravi Shastri, whom Kohli accorded a special mention in his statement, said few have achieved what he had as captain.
“Virat, you can go with your head held high. Few have achieved what you have as captain. Definitely India’s most aggressive and successful. Sad day for me personally as this is the team we built together,” he said.
Indian politician Rahul Gandhi said Kohli has been “greatly loved by millions of cricket fans over the years” who will support him in the next phase too.
“Best wishes for the various other innings to come,” Mr Gandhi said.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said: “Captaincy always comes to an end eventually .. The job [Kohli] has done for India has been fantastic but the job of sending the message Test Cricket is still the most important has been one everyone in the game should thank him for.”
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 15, 2022
His resignation came a day after his post-match press conference in Cape Town, when he looked unusually downbeat.
“It’s been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance every day to take the team in the right direction. I’ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there,” Kohli said in his statement.
“There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey, but never has there been a lack of effort or lack of belief,” he added. “I have always believed in giving my 120 per cent in everything I do, and if I can’t do that, I know it’s not the right thing to do. I have absolutely clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team.”
Kohli concluded his statement by giving heartfelt thanks to Dhoni, whom he called his mentor, saying: “Lastly, a big thank you to MS Dhoni who believed in me as a captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian Cricket forward”.
With this decision, Kohli is no longer the captain in any format of the game. He relinquished the Twenty20 captaincy after the ICC T20 World Cup in November. In December, Indian selectors decided to remove him as One Day International captain. He was replaced by Rohit Sharma.
Before leaving for South Africa, Kohli got involved in a row with the Board of Control for Cricket in India after openly taking on the board’s president Sourav Ganguly in a fiery press conference.
A day after Rohit Sharma was announced as the new white-ball captain, Ganguly claimed that he had asked Kohli not to step down. But Kohli contradicted this by saying he “wasn’t told to reconsider” his decision and “there was no prior communication to me at all” even before he was sacked as ODI captain.