Virat Kohli deserves the elevation

Last week was full of comedies and tragicomedies on and off the field for Indian cricket. And the Board of Indian batsman Virat Kohli Control for Cricket in India can never be left far behind. Firstly, its decision to name the team for the Asia Cup even before India were knocked out of the triseries Down Under seemed in a bit of a haste. And when confusing reasons were given for ‘ resting’ Virender Sehwag, you knew the selection committee, referred to once as a bunch of jokers by present member Mohinder Amarnath, had again showed how incompetent it can be.

Yet, what took the cake was the ‘ street press conference’ which has now become a norm. Nowhere in the world will you find any sports body official coming out on the streets to face TV cameras.

But now it has become a habit to see K Srikkanth address the media in crowded streets as the TV and print journalists have to do their job. In an age where selectors are paid professionals, why the BCCI refuses to have a proper media briefing beats me.

Yet, amidst all this chaos, if there is one good thing that has happened, it is the elevation of Virat Kohli to the vice- captaincy. At 23 years of age, and bearing the tag of being India’s best performer on the tour, the timing of Kohli’s elevation could not have been better.

This tour will be remembered for flop shows in almost all areas and in this scenario, it is the rise of Kohli that will be remembered as special. To battle against the inspired Aussies is the best sign of Kohli maturing as a batsman, though people still raise questions about him being brash and reckless.

Agreed, when Kohli was caught showing his middle finger in the Sydney Test, there was outrage about how the dashing youngster had crossed the limits in a gentleman’s game. But let’s not forget that in the entire Test series where India got whacked 0-4, it was only Kohli who scored a century.

More recently, let us relive the whirlwind knock that Kohli played against Sri Lanka to give the Indians a brief lifeline in the tri-series before the inevitable happened. Arrogance, attitude, and authority — you could see a mix of it all in Kohli’s knock at Hobart, where even a star bowler like Lasith Malinga was put to the sword.</p><p> Coming back to his elevation to the vice-captaincy, if the fear is that Kohli is immature and brash, then it’s a wrong line of thought. In today’s cut-throat world of professional cricket, guys with attitude need to be rewarded.

My firm belief is now that Kohli has been given the responsibility, he will rise to the occasion and become more mature. He will know that as vice-captain, he will have to shoulder some responsibility as well. And that is something from which the Indian team can only gain.

Let’s rewind to the late 1990s and take a look at how one of the best Aussie cricketers was also groomed as vice-captain. Today, the world of cricket knows Ricky Ponting as one of the most successful batsmen in Tests and ODIs. Ponting was forced to quit ODIs recently and hopes he will still be part of the country’s Test campaigns. But as a younger player, way back in 1998-99, Ponting too had his share of problems with discipline.

When the pugnacious batsman turned up once for a press conference with a black eye, he did not hesitate in admitting he had been in a brawl. Yet, the Aussie selectors elevated him as Steve Waugh’s deputy. The two got along famously well and once Ponting had turned a leaf, he became a brilliant captain.

While Kohli’s problems are not really similar to Ponting, being assigned the vice- captaincy is a sign of faith being placed in him by the wise men in the Indian cricket board. There are tongues wagging that Kohli’s new role means the days of Gautam Gambhir being touted as a future captain are over. But one must not forget that this really is no indicator that it’s the end of the road for Gambhir. Anil Kumble had hardly ever been considered for the leadership of the team, and yet he captained the Test team with success when entrusted with the responsibility.

Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh have been vice-captains, but it has never been a guarantee from the BCCI that these people will be looked at as captaincy material. Now that Dhoni has been retained as captain for the Asia Cup and he has a new deputy, we may get to see something new on the field in Dhaka. And looking at the amount of cricket to be played by the Indian team in the coming months, one can say with certainty that the BCCI has picked a vice-captain who is assured of his spot in both the Test and ODI teams.

Just to jog the readers' memory, Kohli was captain when India won the Under-19 World Cup in 2008. Maybe, by the time the ICC World T20 comes later this year, Kohli could even assume the mantle of leadership. Kohli has already shown us that even in an ODI, he can bat with the intensity of a T20 match. Just that the score which India chased against Lanka and the magic man’s own batting was like two T20 chases in succession!

Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2012. MTNPL. All rights reserved

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