Enter Virat.... the Skip

I was initially skeptical of Virat Kohli's appointment as Test captain. Captaincy,in general, and on the sub-continent in particular , mellows players down. This is especially true of aggressive batsmen from the subcontinent - Tendulkar, Afridi, and I dare say, MSD and Misbah. While captaincy didn't make them lesser players, a lot of them did seem to 'alter' their attacking style to shoulder the burdens of leading the side. So, my worry initially was that captaincy will do to Virat, what it did to his idol Sachin, 16 years back - slow him down.
I am slowly but surely, changing my opinion. While in the context of quality of cricket, the ongoing WI-Ind series may not have much significance (#Boring) , it has revealed some traits that have not been common in Indian captains.
For the first time in Test matches, an Indian captain is willing to lose, in an effort to win. A captain who is walking the talk. Kohli's insistence on playing 5 bowlers and firm belief that 20 wickets is the only way to win Tests, is refreshing. And it's calculated logic. For the first time, in Test matches, India is picking "roles" instead of "names". So, India's 6-7-8 need to be specialist bowlers/wk "who can bat". So, if a Mishra is dropped, a Jadeja is picked. I know many have criticized Kohli for dropping Pujara. "Purists" believe that a player like Pujara has the 'solidity' to complement the stroke making of the other 4 batsmen. However, Kohli realized quickly that Pujara's current stonewalling approach is actually hurting India more. Scoring at 1.8 rpo in a Test match when the score is 1/120, in decent batting conditions, takes the game backwards and eats into the time needed to take wickets 11-20 for your bowlers. Past captains (including Ganguly/MSD) would have chosen to "play safe", first make sure they don't lose, and then if time/pitches allowed, press for a win.
Early days , but this series has thrown a couple of examples where Kohli has proven he can take Indian cricket forward, especially overseas - Firstly, in what seems to be another rain-affected test in St Lucia, he has instructed his batsmen to bat T-20 style in 3 hours ,and give his bowlers 85 overs to bowl WI out on the final day. Past Indian captains would have let "struggling players gain practice and valuable confidence" by making them crawl their way to a century on Day-5 and end the game with a customary handshake at the appointed hour. Second - in one of the earlier tests when Bravo drove Ishant through the covers for four, Kohli from slip, gestured to Ishant by placing his 2 fingers  just below his ears, that he should come around the wicket and bounce Bravo out. 
I am excited. 
Posted in on August 13 at 02:07 PM

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  • Nikhil Talgeri
  • Maimoona