One unforgettable moment in this post-captaincy phase was his iconic innings against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, where he played a stunning unbeaten knock of 82* off 53 balls, one of the finest performances of his career.Virat’s love affair with Pakistan continued in the recentAsia Cup too as he notched up his 47th ODI century against the Green Shirts, leaving him just three hundreds shy of breaking legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI tons.
So, is Virat batting more freely now, and has relinquishing captaincy allowed him to become a much more focused batter?
According to India’s senior spinner Amit Mishra, giving up the captaincy was a blessing for Virat.
“He is playing freely. Since he has quit his captaincy and Rohit became the captain, Virat is playing freely. He is now focussing and concentrating on his batting. With this, there is a lot of improvement in his batting,” Mishra, who is a cricket expert for JioCinema, told Timesofindia.com in an interview.
“When you are a captain, you have to focus on both aspects – your team and your batting. Now Virat is no longer a captain and his sole focus is on his batting. Since he left the captaincy, his batting has improved. He is the same Virat we saw a few years back [before the lean phase]. He is giving the same glimpse,” Mishra said.
Virat stepped down from T20I captaincy after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in October 2021 and was then relieved from ODI captaincy ahead of the South Africa tour in December later that year. Virat gave up Test captaincy less than 24 hours after India lost a series in South Africa in January 2022.
“Virat is enjoying his batting, scoring runs, always smiling, having fun on the field, and speaking to other team members. He is in a very good frame of mind currently,” Mishra added.
‘IMPORTANT BREAK FOR VIRAT, ROHIT’
There was considerable surprise and debate among fans and former cricketers when the selectors made the decision to rest key players like Virat, captain Rohit Sharma, and all-rounder Hardik Pandya for the first two ODIs of the upcoming three-match series against Australia.
Virat, Rohit, and Pandya are the part of India squad for the third ODI.
Is it justifiable to rest these star players during an ODI series, especially when it could serve as valuable preparation for the forthcoming ICC World Cup, set to commence on October 5?
India’s World Cup campaign is scheduled to begin against Australia on October 8 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
“Ahead of a big tournament like the World Cup, big players should be given rest so that they can recharge themselves and get themselves ready, especially mentally. They can sit, think, and plan for a big tournament like the World Cup. They need to be relaxed, focused, and mentally charged up for the World Cup,” Mishra further told TimesofIndia.com.
“This break was very important for them because they will be getting a lot of mental stress in the World Cup. So, this break was important for them. Virat and Rohit have been rested so that they can be mentally and physically ready for the World Cup. The World Cup is very important for them,” the spinner said.