Opinion: No centuries, no victories, time up for Virat Kohli the captain? 

Written By: Amartya Sharma
New Delhi Published: Feb 10, 2021, 05.14 PM(IST)

Virat Kohli Photograph:( AFP )

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Virat Kohli has proved his calibre as India's Test captain, but it seems like the time has come to pass on the mantle

Team India's crushing defeat at the hands of England in the first test match at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai has raised a lot of questions like the exclusion of the Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav from the playing XI, India's batting form and to top it all, Virat Kohli's captaincy.  

ALSO READ: ICC Test Rankings: India skipper Virat Kohli slips to fifth spot as Joe Root enters top 3

After the match ended, here's what Kohli said: “I don't think we put enough pressure on them with the ball in the first half. Collectively as a bowling unit, fast bowlers and Ash, were good in the first innings but we also needed to contain a few more runs and create pressure. Having said that, it was a slow wicket and not helping the bowlers which made it easy for the batsmen to rotate strike and get into the game,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation.

“That's a fair assessment (the fourth and fifth bowlers not being up to the mark). You need your bowling unit to step up and create pressure on the opposition. We didn't achieve that in this game which is fine, lack of execution is acceptable but to understand our mindset was right is very important for us. I think we did well in the second innings with the ball and put pressure on them. With the bat as well, we left a few things to be desired and analysed as batsmen with the kind of decisions we took. We are always learning as a side and evolving as a side and Test cricket is tough. England were ready for that grind and probably better equipped than us."

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Better equipped? Well, Indian team has top-ranked bowlers, and batsmen, who were motivated after a brilliant end to the Australia series. Our batsmen have faced the toughest bowling attack (Australia's) but failed to defend or attack the English bowlers at home turf. Hats off to Anderson though! At the age of 38, he is ageing like fine wine. Ask Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane after those scorching reverse-swinging deliveries.  

Has 'King Kohli' lost too many battles to hold his position? Last four test matches under Kohli's leadership have resulted in a loss. 2-0 whitewash against New Zealand, India's Adelaide loss (Where Virat and Co. were bundled out in 36 runs), and now the loss in Chennai against Joe Root's England. Has Virat Kohli's luck run out? From being the most successful captain to the current situation. I feel so!  

Virat Kohli took over the reins as India's full-time Test captain in 2015, since then he had led the team to 33 wins, including the team's first-ever win Down Under.  However, Team India under Kohli has also suffered 14 defeats and 10 draws.  

Team's first defeat in Chennai since 1999 has ended India’s 14-match unbeaten streak in home Tests. Many cricketing experts and fans (including me) believe that Kohli's career as the captain could end. I feel that Virat Kohli should now focus on his career as the batsman as he looks in too much pressure when he comes out to bat.  

In my opinion, tosses do determine the course of the match and Kohli, clearly, is unlucky when it comes to it. Let's not forget IPL 2019, where Kohli famously gestured saying that he lost his ninth toss in 12 matches. His record of tosses has been really poor, although that's not in his hands. I feel the toss played a major role in the loss against England. I have been a fan of Virat Kohli, the batsman! He seems fearless and a major threat to the opposition. But in recent years, it feels as if the pressure of captaincy has got to him. The last century Virat scored was back in November 2019.  

He has proved his calibre as India's Test captain, but it seems like the time has come to pass on the mantle. Dhoni surprised everyone when he decided to retire from Tests after a poor show in back-to-back series. However, I would not want Virat to retire, in fact, revive his career as the prolific batsman.

Talks of multiple captains in Team India have been doing rounds for some time now. Rohit Sharma for T20Is, Virat Kohli for ODIs and Ajinkya Rahane for Test.  

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Agreed, Virat Kohli brought aggression and passion to the Indian team under his captaincy, but Indian players need a much more relaxed leader. Despite being at a losing stage in Australia, Team India bounced back with an amateur playing XI with patience and much-needed resilience.

The playing XI choices under Kohli have been somewhat questionable. From including out of form Shaw for the Adelaide Test to omitting much-experienced Kuldeep Yadav for much inexperienced (in international stage) Shahbaz Nadeem, who failed to leave an impact in the match. Washington Sundar could also be criticised for his bowling in the first match, but his strong knock in the second innings justified his place in the playing XI. Sundar has proved himself from the very first Test (in Australia). With Jadeja's injury, India are definitely on back-foot! But Yadav could have done much better than Nadeem!  

However, Kohli said that there were "no regrets" for choosing Nadeem over Yadav.  

I am a Virat Kohli FAN! I am! But I feel the series will be the litmus test for Virat Kohli's calibre as a captain. He has had a prolific record in Test cricket as the captain, but it is definitely deteriorating and I don't want him to ruin his record. 

I will end my piece with a line from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight, "You either die a HERO, or live long enough to see yourself become the Villain!"

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)

Amartya Sharma

Amartya Sharma is a Sub Editor for WION Digital and covers sports and world news. He loves to watch and play football and tennis.

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