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  Sports   Cricket  16 Feb 2017  Kohli & Co have juggernaut-like momentum

Kohli & Co have juggernaut-like momentum

THE ASIAN AGE. | R MOHAN
Published : Feb 16, 2017, 7:26 am IST
Updated : Feb 16, 2017, 7:33 am IST

Virat Kohli seems to have no problem in getting his lesser players to pull their weight.

Virat Kohli with his team.
 Virat Kohli with his team.

Team India moves on like a juggernaut. Bangladesh were forced to surrender but fared well in resisting up to a point in their task of batting out 120 overs in the fourth innings. The result was assumed long before the last ball was bowled in the contest, which is because India has been moving like a well-oiled chariot on wheels on home soil. Skipper Virat Kohli was once again prominent in notching up yet another double century, his rich vein of form leading to predictions on what he can do to threaten the biggest goals in Test cricket – Sachin Tendulkar’s 15,921 runs and 51 centuries.

Comparisons can be odious. But was there any doubt over Kohli emerging as the batsman who would be compared to Sachin? The sheer weight of his performances since taking over as skipper midway on the tour of Australia before the World Cup pointed to such a transformation. Not all cricketers are known to revel in the captaincy as their batting tends to suffer. Sachin began in an exceptional way as captain too but maybe his captaincy tended to suffer as he wasn’t really coping with the twin demands.

At the release of his autobiography I posed the question to Sachin as to whether he considered himself a success at the captaincy and also - if he was a failure why did he fail? He defended his record pointing to a Test series win against South Africa, which was one of the strongest teams then. 

There was no question of his accepting he failed at the job. Suffice it to say that, in the final analysis, he wasn’t comfortable enough being the captain because he could not raise the quality of the play of some of his colleagues.

Kohli seems to have no problem in getting his lesser players to pull their weight. Of course, he has a long way to go to prove India’s best captain as he has not been tested enough in South Africa and England. Notwithstanding its home bias, his success percentage as captain is immense. The true test will lie beyond India when the batting gets scratchy as the ball swings and seams and the bowling tends to suffer if the pitches are true and sporting and don’t offer that much assistance. It would, however, be prudent to wait for results to unfold in the future before passing final judgment on a young man whose world is his oyster at the moment.

Comparisons to his immediate predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be really odious. There was no question that Dhoni brought trailblazing changes in his avatar as limited-overs captain. He had a very fair rate of success as Test captain too, but not quite in the same proportion as Kohli. It would be fair to say that Kohli would have a long way to go to match Dhoni’s instinctive approach to the shorter formats in which he was the willing gambler who did the most unconventional things, and took the credit as well as the blame if things went wrong. Kohli has much to learn on the count of taking the instinctive gamble.

Thing have gone so swimmingly for Kohli since the last Test defeat he tasted at the hands of Sri Lanka in 2015 that he has had little reason to sweat. England were in with a smidgen of a chance in the Rajkot Test, but Alastair Cook had not taken the ultimate gamble of trying to win the game at the risk of losing it. His declaration on the final day came a tad late. To Kohli’s credit, he batted India out of the hole, putting his hand up at the crisis point before turning the tables on the visitors. It was Team India all the way in the next three Tests.

Where Kohli will face the maximum pressure is in T20 cricket. India seems to have lost the art of wining big tournaments in the shortest game. A collective cooling of the daring that fetched rewards in the earliest days seems to have evaporated. Even the victory over England in the T20 series was a fluke, created by the glaring umpiring error at the business end of the match when an official ruled Root leg before.

India should have lost the series there itself but survived to win the day when Morgan made the cardinal error of choosing to chase in Bengaluru where big IPL totals in the range of 200-plus are commonplace. Only occasionally can such targets be met, although England did it once sensationally against South Africa in the T20 worlds here only to be pipped on the post by an unknown batsman from the Caribbean who thought nothing of hitting four sixes to win the cup.

Tags: virat kohli, sachin tendulkar, mahendra singh dhoni