"We need to manage his body," Virat Kohli once said as India wrestled with the prospects of losing the all-rounder in Hardik Pandya. And as it turned out, despite an extended convalescence period, Pandya struggled with his fitness and India got to utilise him for limited roles in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021. (More Cricket News)
Ravi Shastri, who oversaw India's failed T20 World Cup campaign, has similar observations about the skipper. The former India all-rounder had earlier revealed that the team was "mentally and physically drained" during the T20 World Cup after failing to make the knock-outs.
Shastri even hinted at Kohli relinquishing captaincy in other formats of the game, after doing so in the T20 format.
"In red-ball cricket, India have been number one for the last five years under his captaincy. Unless, he wants to give it up or he is mentally fatigued where he says he wants to focus on my batting which can happen in the near future," Shastri told India Today, when asked about workload management.
"It won't happen immediately but it can happen. The same might happen with white-ball cricket, he might say he had enough and he focuses on Test captaincy. It is his mind and body that will make that decision. He won't be the first.
"A lot of successful players have given up captaincy to focus on their batting for their side," Shastri added.
In fact, Kohli has already opted out of the T20 International series against New Zealand and also the first Test against the visitors. Rohit Sharma will lead the team in the shortest format, while Ajinkya Rahane will fill in during the first Test while the regular skipper takes a break.
Shastri also endorsed split captaincy, "especially, in these times", saying "it will reduce the pressure on the individual. He also foresees many players in the team to take long breaks to recover from bubble fatigue caused by the fear of the COVID pandemic. "A lot of players will take breaks. I foresee lot of plays wanting breaks and rightly so. You need to switch off from the game from time to time."
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli first got together as head coach and captain for India in 2014 for a Test match against Australia in Adelaide after the then skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was banned from the game.
Later that year, Shastri became the director of the Indian cricket team for a period of eight months, overseeing India's tour of England and also the 2015 World Cup. He was removed in 2016, only to appoint him as the head coach in 2017.