Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore lost in the Eliminator of IPL 2021 to Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday to bow out of the tournament and thus ending Virat Kohli’s reign as RCB skipper, which lasted over nine years. This was RCB’s second straight loss in the Eliminator after they were trumped by Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2020. Before the start of the second phase of IPL 2021, Kohli had announced that he will step down as captain after the current season, a decision that came days after he announced relinquishing India’s T20I captain after the T20 World Cup, due to start in two weeks’ time. While Kohli’s prime reason for stepping down from captaincy duty was stated as workload management and how the master batter wants to focus on his batting more, but, it was not really that tough to read between the lines. After taking over as RCB skipper in 2011, Kohli has zero titles to show to date, and the same is the case with him as the Indian skipper as well. It is not that the blame, or even if it is that, has to be put squarely on one man - not at all. However, it will be foolhardy to not even consider that Kohli’s lack of results also contributed to his decision of stepping down.
Kohli remains the player with second-most matches as captain for a single franchise, but he has a bare trophy cabinet to show for it. Kohli first captained the side in 2011. That year, Kohli, then 22, was named the vice-captain of the side and captained a few games in the absence of regular skipper Daniel Vettori. That season, RCB finished runners-up to Chennai Super Kings. In 2013, Kohli took over captaincy full time after Vettori announced his retirement. That year, RCB finished 5th. In 2014, they slipped to seventh, but in 2018 made it to the playoff, finishing third. They beat Rajasthan Royals in the Eliminator but succumbed to CSK in Qualifier 2. In 2016, RCB under Kohli made it to the final for the first time but lost to the Cauvery derby to Sunrisers Hyderabad. 2017, 2018, and 2019 were particularly bad seasons for RCB as they finished 8th, 6th, and 8th, respectively. 2017 was a horror show as they managed just three wins and lost 10 games in a single season and returned with a win percentage of 21.43. They have bounced back though in the last two seasons with 4th place finishes, losing out on the Eliminator on both occasions.
And during his tenure, as captain, Kohli the batter was always in prolific form. In 2011, just before his reign as the full-time captain. He scored 557 runs at 46.41 and a strike rate of 121.08. RCB’s then-coach Ray Jennings had stated that Kohli will not just be captaining RCB in the future, he will be an India captain as well. 2012 was slightly off for Kohli as he managed 364 runs at 28. In 2013, his first year as the skipper, he led from the front with 634 at 45.28 and a strike rate of 138.73. There was a dip in 2014- 359 at 27.61 - but followed it with 505 in 2015 and a massive 973 at 81.08, striking at 152.03. That year, RCB made it to the finals and he notched up four centuries and seven half-centuries. And from then on Kohli has managed to go past the 300-run mark every season. In 2018, he scored 530 runs at 48.18. In 2021, Kohli scored 405 runs at 28.92, striking at 119.46. Kohli’s 973 in 2016 remains the highest aggregate of runs in a single season with 125 runs clear of the next best – David Warner 848, the same year, Ironically, the SRH skipper tasted IPL success that year with the new franchise.
In terms of captaincy records, in the 140 matches, Kohli has led in RCB, they have tasted win 64 matches and lost in 69. Three matches have been tied – eventually being decided in a Super Over - while four have ended in no-result. That’s a win percentage of 48.51. Only Adam Gilchrist has a worse win percentage than Kohli among IPL captains who have led teams in at least 50 games. Kohli is one of only four players to have captained more than 100 games in the IPL and remains the only captain with zero IPL titles. MS Dhoni is the only captain with over 200 matches as skipper and the only one with over 100 wins. The others are Gautam Gambhir (129 matches, 71 wins, 55.42 win percentage, 2 IPL titles) and Rohit Sharma (129 matches, 75 wins, win percentage 58.13, 5 IPL titles).