Shockwaves were sent across the country when the great MS Dhoni decided to step down as India’s limited-overs captain on Wednesday.
Captain Cool maybe one of the world’s most successful captains in the history of cricket, but a change of leadership is what Indian cricket desperately needs at this point in time.
When Dhoni took over as the T20 captain, India were going into the 2007 World T20 after being knocked out in the first round of the 50-over World Cup earlier that year.
Therefore, India needed a team which could play with absolute freedom and not worry about losing.
And Dhoni’s mantra – if the team focuses on execution, it will reap rewards, fit the bill perfectly.
But nine years later, that’s not enough. India needs a team which can not only play freely but also make sure that they beat their opposition on any given day, in any part of the world.
For that, Virat Kohli’s never say never attitude is just what the doctor ordered.
Making Things Happen
MS Dhoni was the sort of the captain who liked to wait for the opposition team’s batsmen to make mistakes. Therefore, many a time, especially when India played abroad, the men in blue allowed big partnerships to form and faced the consequences: they lost their grip on the match.
When the pitch wasn’t slow or turning enough, Dhoni mostly had a standard field with his bowlers bowling over after over. Kohli, on the other hand, prefers to make things happen.
The new India limited-overs captain, as we have seen in Tests, keeps changing his field and talking to his bowlers until a wicket falls.
In his first Test as captain in Australia in 2014, Kohli told his boys at the end of day four, “Whatever target they (Australia) set, we are going for the win”.
And Kohli, who scored 141 runs in the second innings, almost helped India scale down Australia’s mammoth target of 364 runs on day five.
This aggressive attitude is what India needs, especially if they want to lose the ‘poor travelers’ tag.
When one thinks Virat Kohli, the first word that comes to his or her mind is intensity. Even if India have over 500 runs on the board, Kohli will still dive to save one run in the last ball of a day’s play in a Test match. This attitude has rubbed off on his teammates during the Test matches that took place in 2016.
Dhoni’s game plan, which included having a calm dressing room with all players enjoying the game may have helped India win many matches, but under Virat, when players will be expected to give an inch more, India will be winning far more games.
And that’s the need of the hour – the players in world cricket need to keep pushing their limits to perform consistently.
In this day and age, in the kind of cricket that we play, you have to play consistent cricket at a very high intensity for a long period of time to win games.Virat Kohli
MS Dhoni always believed in giving chances to youngsters throughout his captaincy, but he never took much interest in being a part of the growth of a new player, at least on the field.
Most fresh talents were always given ample opportunities, but were left on the ground to grow on their own. This worked for the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma (in the shorter formats) and Virat Kohli, but some other talents fizzled out.
Dhoni rarely went up to the new kid on the block to offer advice. He believed that a player should grow on his own terms. Kohli on the other hand, likes to contribute to the growth of a young player.
He mostly stands at mid-on or mid-off and keeps whispering advice into the ear of a youngster while he gets ready to bowl. Maybe because he is a fielder and not a wicketkeeper, it’s easier for him, but credit must be given where it’s due.
The Delhi lad was seen setting fields and discussing strategies constantly with off-spinner Jayant Yadav during the recently concluded Test series against England.
Even while batting, he keeps egging youngsters to play their natural game. When KL Rahul played his debut Test versus Australia at Melbourne in 2014, he was going for the big shots as soon as he came into bat. But Rahul couldn’t connect any of the shots because he was playing the shots half-heartedly.
One would expect the then vice-captain Virat Kohli, who was batting at the other end to calm him down, but instead, Kohli told him, ‘if you want to go for it then play your shots confidently’.
Rahul eventually got caught out for three runs, but look how far the young Karnataka player has reached now.
Better With Responsibility
There is no doubt that Virat Kohli becomes a better batsman with responsibility. In an recent interview, (video above in the article) he said:
When I play an IPL game, it’s very easy for me to throw my wicket away after scoring 60 or 70 runs, but I push after that because I want to set an example for my team.
Before the 28-year-old was handed Test captaincy, he averaged 44.41 with 9 hundreds in the five-day format. And now, his Test average is 50.10 with 15 hundreds.
He took three and a half years to score 9 hundreds and in the last two years, he has scored six Test hundreds, which includes three double centuries.
Maybe we are yet to see the best of Virat Kohli in ODIs and T20s!