No matter how many accolades Virat Kohli gets after leading the Indian team to a resounding victory over minnows Zimbabwe, his captaincy will continue to be a plum topic for discussion.
The Delhi batsman got into a spat with the on-field umpires, who had declared him out in doubtful circumstances. Kohli’s rebellious act irked many observers and forced former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin to say that the youngster needs to tone down and behave like a captain.
Azhar also said aggression needs to come from the inside, not outside.
The first signs of Kohli’s ‘outside’ aggression were seen in 2008 at Kuala Lumpur when he led India to their second ICC Under-19 World Cup victory. He was belligerent on the field when opponents South Africa were putting up a fight in the final at Kinrara Oval and, after winning the match and tournament, Kohli ran into the opposition camp with a raised fist.
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While Azhar has a point, it is only human for a captain to bring part of his personality while leading the team. When Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi led India, he brought with him a sense of aloofness — thanks to his English public school upbringing.
The great Indian left-arm spinner, Bishen Singh Bedi, led the team in his own ‘I- call-a- spade-a-spade’ way, once conceding a One-Day International against Pakistan in Sahiwal because Sarfaraz Nawaz was not called by the umpires for bowling unreachable bouncers.
One would like to forget the incident at Melbourne in 1981 when Sunil Gavaskar almost conceded the Test after getting a shocking leg-before decision and being riled by the Australians as he walked back to the pavilion.
In the 1979 Jubilee Test against England, Gundappa Viswanath recalling Bob Taylor after the Englishman was given a terrible decision by the umpire. Sourav Ganguly, meanwhile, got under Steve Waugh’s skin by keeping him waiting before the toss in 2001.
Since 2008, Kohli has come a long way to be recognised as a youth icon. His performances in the Indian Premier League and on the failed Australian tour, in 2011- 12, gave assurance to Indian cricket fans, who were concerned about the stability of the middle-order post the retirements of Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman. His graceful batting in all formats of the game is wowing audiences and, more importantly, he is now playing the role of a finisher like M. S. Dhoni.
An old adage in cricket goes that a successful captain is one who leads from the front and Kohli, albeit in an interim capacity, has done just that. His manoeuvring of bowlers, field placements and strategic decisions have shown that he is the top contender to take over from Dhoni whenever the latter needs a break.
Upon his return from Zimbabwe, Kohli admitted that he is learning the art of captaincy from Dhoni and is aware of the need to harness his aggression.
We have seen how Michael Clarke picked up important tips from Ricky Ponting and is leading the beleaguered Australian team from the front in the ongoing Ashes. Time will tell how much of Dhoni’s coolness rubs off on Kohli.
(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer)
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
Natural to let personality influence captaincy
Upon his return from Zimbabwe, Kohli admitted that he is learning the art of captaincy from Dhoni and is aware of the need to harness his aggression.Mail Today – Mon 12 Aug, 2013 12:08 PM IST
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