What’s the story?
Former Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has urged India to persist with Ajinkya Rahane as Test captain even after regular skipper Virat Kohli recovers from injury. Congratulating the Indians on their series victory against Australia, the 35-year-old went on to take an indirect dig at Kohli for his fiery body-language both on and off the field.
In a series of tweets, Johnson noted, “Congrats on the series win India. Well played. Well fought throughout series Aus. A great series to watch. Rahane should stay captain! It was a tough series but I believe it should stay on the field with the players.”
Rahane should stay captain! It was a tough series but I believe it should stay on the field with the players https://t.co/jtM7V9eIAm— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) March 28, 2017
The likes of Michael Clarke and Sourav Ganguly were also effusive in their praise for the Mumbaikar’s leadership skills. However, neither wanted India to replace Kohli with him. “The way Rahane came out and captained the team has been a real stand out. He was very aggressive, he looked to bowl Australia out. He set positive, aggressive fields and I think his captaincy was brilliant, to be honest,” Clarke told India Today.
During the course of the 4-match series, Johnson targeted Kohli for his passionate captaincy and poor run of form. Insisting that the 28-year old had lost his focus, the left-armer attributed the string of low scores to his failure to keep emotions in check.
The heart of the matter
Having suffered a shoulder injury in the third Test in Ranchi, Kohli had to miss the series decider in Dharamsala. Rahane stepped in to lead the team and put on an impressive display of captaincy.
Possessing sharp tactical acumen, he set precise field placements and rotated his bowlers adequately. As a result, India sealed a comfortable 8-wicket victory to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
At the end-of-match press conference, Kohli continued his skirmish with the Australian team. Even as his counterpart Steven Smith issued an apology for crossing the line, he declared that the relationships between the two sets of players were wrecked beyond repair.
Kohli’s injury means that he is unlikely to take part in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s initial matches in the 2017 IPL. On the other hand, Rahane will play under Smith’s captaincy for Rising Pune Supergiant.
With Kohli managing to get under Australia’s skin and Rahane leading India in an impressive manner, Johnson‘s comments are not surprising. However, the team has very much taken shape under Kohli’s captaincy over the last couple of years.
One poor series with the bat cannot evoke question marks on his leadership ability. Having said that, he can now depend on his trusted lieutenant Rahane to offer valuable suggestions at the right time.