Virat Kohli – Team India’s Most Courageous Captain Ever
No Indian cricketer has shown such belief in his decision-making and walked the talk with the bat in such style.
Virat Kohli is easily the most courageous captain India has ever seen. Period. He has been bold and brave in his decision-making, and has backed it up with reliable individual and team performances. With the virtue of his presence and performance, he has lifted the spirits of the side to turn things around in South Africa. He has defied the conventional logic, challenged prejudices, dealt with the criticism upfront, and didn’t take a single step back in the face of adversity.
No Indian captain in the past has controlled his side with such authority and conviction.
No name in the Indian cricket has shown such belief in his decision-making and walked the talk with the bat in such style. Such has been his consistency that players like Michael Vaughan have started calling him, ‘the Freak’.
Let’s look at some of the recent examples.
January was supposed to be the most challenging period for captain Kohli. His side landed in South Africa with high hopes and within ten cricket playing days, lost the series. Their ambition to become the world-beating Test side was lying in tatters.
The two Test defeats bought a lot of criticism and controversy around team selection, and India’s mode of preparing for such an important tour was questioned. Critics raised fingers towards India for not giving themselves enough time to adjust to the conditions. Every day of the first two Test matches created a heated debate on Ajinkya Rahane’s exclusion from the playing eleven.
Kohli took everything in his stride. Took every question thrown at him without ducking, and tried to convey his logic behind those decisions. He didn’t bother to check if anyone was buying his theory or not. Virat’s message was simple. As a leader, he believed in his decision-making skills and did what he felt was right at that stage, and didn’t want to ponder over every decision with the virtue of hindsight.
When the entire cricketing fraternity was looking into the faults of the current Indian side, their captain carried the aura of a leader who trusted the ability of his men and felt that the results of the first two Test matches didn’t reflect the real strength of his side.
Everyone around him responded to his faith, and on the most difficult wicket of the series, India batted with grit and bowled with fire to script one of the most magnificent overseas Test wins for India. Anyone who doubted India’s ability to face bounce and swing in challenging conditions had to take their words back.
The message was clear: Win or lose, this Indian side won’t shy away from any situation or contest.
A lot of this could happen only because of the way Virat carried himself – on and off the field. In none of the press conferences did Virat try to hide under the excuse of poor pitches and hostile conditions, which his rival captains have used generously in the past while travelling to India. Nor did he shy away from accepting the shortcomings and mistakes of his team.
Thriving Under Pressure
Virat would be one of the rare captains who has thrived under the pressure of leadership. His record speaks for itself. Such has been his contribution that the phrase, ‘leading from the front’ looks ridiculously small in front of his towering scores as a batsman.
Having seen him from close quarters, one can safely say that Virat the captain didn’t take any space from Virat the batsman.
In-fact they coexist seamlessly or would rather complement each other. His logic of leadership is simple; if he can’t be the most dependable player of his team, how can he depend on others. If Virat’s own contribution isn’t much, how can he demand performances from others in his side. His intent and energy can set an example for others. He puts very high standards for his fitness and work ethic, and everyone around him observes and absorbs his vibe. His attitude lifts the spirits of the dressing room and inspires everyone to follow his footsteps.
Since 2014’s tour of England, there were certain question marks over his ability to bat in seaming conditions. His hundred at the Centurion followed by two gutsy knocks on the lethal Wanderers pitch are modern day masterclasses in batting.
Just like his batting, his captaincy calls are audacious, filled with adventure and resolve. Today, everyone is going gaga over the performance of wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. But Kohli has gone out of the way to back them, especially over established performers like R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Look how far these two talented spinners have come and got their team. At first place, not many captains would play two wrist spinners in his eleven, and secondly playing both of them on hard and bouncy South African pitches would defy all the traditional cricketing wisdom. But Kohli isn’t here to follow the convention.
India may not have been able to win the Test series, but they have scripted history by clinching their maiden ODI Series on South African soil – a feat made possible primarily because of Virat’s unwavering pursuit to reach new heights.
(Nishant Arora is an award-winning cricket journalist, and most recently, the media manager of the Indian Cricket Team. He also co-authored the best-selling book on Yuvraj Singh’s battle with cancer.)
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