Indian captain Virat Kohli might have departed home following the culmination of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval but he was very much a part of the core group that plotted the plan ‘Mission Melbourne’ for the visitor’s comeback in the Boxing Day Test, fielding coach R Sridhar has revealed.
During an interaction with ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on the latter’s Youtube channel, R Sridhar revealed that Viray Kohli has messaged around midnight, the same night India were bowled out for a shambolic 36 to discuss the plans for the next Test.
”It was midnight, around 12.30 am, the night we lost the Adelaide Test. Virat Kohli messaged me: ‘What are you doing?’ I was shocked. I thought ‘why is he messaging at this time?’ I told him ‘head coach (Ravi Shastri), myself, Bharat Arun, and Vikram Rathour are sitting together’. He said, ‘I’ll also join you’. I said, ‘no problem, come over.’ R Sridhar said.
“He came there and all of us started discussing. That’s where ‘Mission Melbourne’ began. Shastri made a point there: ‘This 36, wear it like a badge! This 36 is what will make this team great’,” he added.
R Sridhar also went on to reveal that both Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were on the same view that India should play with five specialist bowlers despite them having been bowled for 36 in Adelaide.
As it turned out, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who had missed the first Test due to hamstring injury, replaced Virat Kohli at the MCG.
The move turned out to be a masterstroke as Jadeja not only claimed crucial wickets across both innings but also chipped in with a high-quality half-century in the first innings and it was his partnership with centurion Ajinkya Rahane that helped India take a decisive and eventual match-winning 100+ lead over Australia.
”We were slightly confused but then we started talking about the decisions we’d have to take. Then Virat called Ajinkya the next morning and we had a very good discussion. After a 36 all-out, usually, teams would strengthen their batting. But Ravi Shastri, Virat, and Ajinkya decided to strengthen the bowling. That’s how we replaced Virat with Ravindra Jadeja, and it was a masterstroke,” concluded Sridhar.