Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Jan 15, 2018, 11.56 AM
We Indians are so sensitive to the game we love that we lose patience as things derail a bit. Team India and Kohli were on a roll for past couple of years as Kohli seemed to have acquired that Midas touch. Everything which Kohli was touching was turning in to gold. His every decision on and off the field was hitting the bull’s eye.
However, as India lost out at the Cape Town, for the same people, Kohli has reduced not only to a mediocre captain but an ordinary batsman too. Virender Sehwag (though he is a bit of loose cannon) even suggested Kohli drop himself.
The ruckus is mainly over the final eleven players selected by Kohli. Experts frowned when they saw Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in the line-up at Cape Town and KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma on the bench. As Rohit and Shikhar both failed at Cape Town, the salvo got further ammunition.
Flaks continue to Centurion. Now the complaint is that why Shikhar has been dropped (Gavaskar slammed Kohli for this) and why Rohit is still in the playing eleven. However, the decision which people believe most bizarre of all is, leaving Bhuvneshwar out in the second Test and going into play Test with just one spinner. Kohli believed that the conditions at Centurian are not conducive to Bhuvi’s style of swing bowling. Moreover, Ishant produces bounce and also Lords 2014 must be playing in Kohli’s mind where Ishant won Test for India by his rising deliveries. As for two spinners, pitch sprung surprises and Kohli could not read it upfront.
But batsman Kohli is already on track with his first innings display.
There is something very interesting in Cricket because of inherent uncertainties in it. Most of the time you only come to know retrospectively, whether the decision of caption was good or bad on the outcome. Thus, it is always good to go with the conviction of captain till things really get repetitively wrong and go really haywire, which certainly not the case at this moment.
In 1992 World Cup, Imran Khan continued with out of form Inzamam-ul-Haq despite criticism. In the semi-final, Inzamam played a whirlwind knock and bailed his side out from a crunch situation. Imran was hailed but had Inzy continued with his poor form in the semi-final as well what Imran would have faced back home is anybody’s guess.
In 1990, Azhar won the toss at Lords and put England in to bat. Graham Gooch slammed triple century and England decimated India. Azhar was severely criticised. Though it is correct that Azhar misinterpreted the playing condition but had Kiran More not dropped Gooch when he was on 36, the result of the match could have been different.
But that doesn’t mean that captain is absolved of a genuinely bad decision. In 1996 World Cup semi-final, Azhar put Sri Lanka in on a semi-prepared track. Indians crumbled in the second innings on a hyper-turning track.
The captain in his judgement sometimes needs to one over the other, though they are evenly poised. Sourav Ganguly once admitted that as a caption, the toughest task for him was to tell Anil Kumble in overseas tours that Kumble was not part of playing eleven as Harbhajan had taken the only slot for the spinner in the eleven.
Notwithstanding above, Kohli also doesn’t have the license to decide things on his whims. True, he failed to read the playing conditions in South Africa and some of his decisions are not very convincing but then I call it captain’s privilege to take the call, particularly when it is well known that Virat Kohli is a passionate campaigner and team man.
It is Kohli’s first tour as captain against a formidable opponent outside the sub-continent. Moreover, India hardly got any practice game before Test series to gauge the situation and get them duly adjusted and calibrated.
We need to appreciate that these are not easy calls to take. Kohli probably believes that Shikhar and Rohit are a kind of player, if they click, they can simply run away with the innings and game, which probably has a rationale behind it. Rohit is failing but even like of Ian Chappel believes that with little adjustment in this technique and mindset, Rohit can become worthy of a Test player. Perhaps, based on this assumption, Kohli wants to give chances to Rohit.
In 2001, in the home series against Australia, as per the experts Sourav Ganguly and team India was doing everything wrong till the third day of second Test at Kolkata. But when Dravid-Laxman built that mammoth partnership and India pulled Test, the narrative of fraternity for Ganguly took a brazen U-turn.
Thus without going to the specifics in what Kohli has done, for this moment let’s have faith in the conviction of the skipper in spite of few of his irrational decision. Who knows when table may turn and Kohli will again be at the top of the proceedings.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).