Has Kohli Reinvented Himself As Captain?
For the first time, people didn't have any complaints with the way Kohli led India
There is hardly anyone who doesn't admire the batsman in Virat Kohli.
Such is the class of this modern day great that fans and even pundits can't stop themselves from placing him on the same pedestal as that of former batting Legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Sir Vivian Richards and even Sachin Tendulkar.
In fact, who doesn't want to be a batsman like Kohli?
He is someone that budding young cricketers dream of becoming everyday. He is the kind of batsman that even former greats would have wanted to be during their playing days.
However, the same cannot be said when it comes to Virat Kohli-the captain. His captaincy is something that has drawn as much criticism as there has been praise of him as a batsman over the years. When it comes to captaincy, Kohli surely hasn't been someone who could be seen as a role model.
The recipe for being a successful captain is quite simple :
- Back your players and give them enough chances
- Make them feel secure
- Identify each players’ strength and use them accordingly
- Improvise in tough times.
But his habit of constantly chopping and changing the playing XI, dropping players after one or two bad games and mishandling of bowlers, among other decisions, has been strongly criticised in recent times. It has been three years now that he is leading the Indian side but it seemed like he had hardly learnt anything from his mistakes as a captain over the years. It was clearly visible in the way he led his side in the first T20I against Australia at Brisbane.
Bowling first, he made quite a lot of mistakes. Khaleel Ahmed, who is the most recent addition to this Indian side, prefers bowling with the new ball. He had been successful in the T20I series against the Windies as Rohit Sharma handed him the new ball in all three matches. But Kohli made him bowl in the middle overs and the result was horrible.
Even though he picked up a wicket, he conceded 42 runs in his three overs at an economy rate of 14.00, whereas Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah conceded runs at a combined economy of only 6 runs per over. It's true that he didn't bowl the right line and lengths but as a captain, you need to allow a young and inexperienced player to play in his comfort zone. Kohli didn't do that.
Moreover, India had gained control back in the game when Kuldeep Yadav had struck twice in quick time to reduced Australia to 75 for 3. Glenn Maxwell was out there to bat and he held the key for Australia. His weakness against Jasprit Bumrah had been well known but he decided to keep him for the death overs.
His lack of vision and improvising skills cost India that period in the match as Maxwell took on a liking for Krunal Pandya’s bowling. Although Bumrah got him dismissed later at the death, his innings of 46 runs off just 24 deliveries had already set the tone for Australia’s victory.
India had lost that match by four runs. As Kohli’s captaincy trend had been, everyone expected him to make changes to the playing XI by dropping players like Krunal Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed. However, he surprised everyone by playing the same XI in the second T20I at Melbourne.
Not only that, he gave Khaleel the new ball instead of Bumrah. And he repaid the faith shown in him immediately as he claimed the wickets of Chris Lynn and D’Arcy Short in the fourth and sixth overs of Australia’s innings respectively.
That was not the only thing. Bumrah, who had the record of dismissing Maxwell six times in 34 deliveries, was brought into the attack immediately after Maxwell’s arrival to the crease.
Although he didn't take his wicket this time around, he built the pressure on him by constantly bowling dots. Maxwell looked absolutely clueless as he usually does against him.
And Krunal, who had been smashed all around the park for 55 runs in his 4 overs in the previous match, showed what he is capable of as he took his revenge on Maxwell.
He cleaned him up with a superb delivery and Maxwell stood shell-shocked at the crease. He ended up with bowling figures of 4-0-26-1 here at Melbourne and proved that it was just a bad day he was having in the previous match.
For the first time in all these years, people didn't have any complaints with the way Kohli led India and handled the bowlers and all his players as a whole. His decision to play the same eleven was highly praised and it seems like he has learnt from how his deputy Rohit Sharma who led the side in his absence during Asia Cup and T20I series against Windies.
Whatever the reasons might be behind his sudden improvement, the outcome makes India’s future look bright under Kohli’s leadership. Who knows! We might look down memory lane a few years later and 23rd November, 2018 might seem to be the exact day when Kohli reinvented himself as a captain.