Following India’s stunning triumph in the just-concluded Test series against Australia, there have been calls from several quarters to hand the captaincy to Ajinkya Rahane permanently. Regular skipper Virat Kohli had returned home after the first Test to attend the birth of his first child. India had suffered a humiliating defeat in the first Test.
The Virat Kohli-led side were all out for just 36 in the second innings of the game and had lost the contest by eight wickets. Incidentally, India remained unbeaten in the following three Tests after Virat Kohli’s departure. Ajinkya Rahane marshalled his troop extremely well and led the team to a monumental 2-1 series win despite missing some of the big names.
And as Rahane led a depleted Indian side to victory in Australia, former India left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi believes the time may have come for Virat Kohli to hand over captaincy to prolong his career as a batsman. Bedi compared Rahane’s captaincy to Tiger Pataudi’s, and said the Indian bowlers thrive under Rahane’s captaincy.
“Personally, I am floored with the way Rahane conjured magic from broken bodies around him. The way he handled his meagre resources reminds me of Tiger Pataudi, who throughout his captaincy tenure was woefully short of a well-rounded unit but his leadership alone gave Indian cricket fresh legs. It was Pataudi who defined an “Indianness” in our cricket. He infused in us a thrilling sense of being together in this ride,” Bedi wrote in the Indian Express.
“I’ve observed Rahane pretty closely on this tour. The hallmark of any captain is his ability to handle the bowling resources. This is where yours truly has become an absolute “mureed” of Rahane. Three Tests is good enough time to assess a captain’s bowling changes and fielding placements. I tried hard but I couldn’t find a single Rahane move which could be questioned by armchair critics like me.
“For me personally, it was more important that the Indian bowlers thrived under Rahane’s quiet but watchful eyes. Ravichandran Ashwin is not easily satisfied with himself or even with the man at the helm. But it was heartening to see him at peace with himself and also the captain. You could see him all-involved in the final Test even when he wasn’t in the playing XI. The obvious sign of a disgruntled dressing room are sulking faces of those carrying drinks.
“Even to a critical eye, it was pleasing to see a captain who was unperturbed, unruffled and least demonstrative. What sealed my vote for him was his gesture at the end of the Test. Watching him hand over the glittering Border-Gavaskar Trophy to T Natarajan, a rookie on his first away tour, would have had the cricketing Gods looking down at him with kind eyes. This for me was pure and simple leadership at its honest best.
“The great Richie Benaud famously said, “Captaincy is 90 per cent luck and 10 per cent skill. But don’t try it without that 10 per cent”. Rahane has both, though with a minor change in proportion. He has 50 per cent luck and 50 per cent skill,” added Bedi.
The legendary spinner further said India should decide between having Kohli as a great batsman and Kohli the ‘mediocre captain’.
“I hope I’m not giving the impression of bending my back to build a case for Rahane to take over as Test captain. If anything my sincere aim is to prolong Virat Kohli’s batting career for the country. Shared responsibilities in cricket are different from corporate/political fields whence individuals are almost vying for cut-throat glory. In sports, especially cricket, captains can be seen swimming or sinking with the teams they lead.
“Another ticklish thought pops up in my mind: Does India need Virat Kohli the great batsman or Virat Kohli a mediocre captain in the long run? Providence has provided us with an instant option. Rahane can lead in Tests while Kohli and Rohit Sharma can share the duties in white-ball cricket. I am certain none of the selectors would want to own up this responsibility.
“Maybe Kohli can offer to make an honourable way for Rahane to take over during the series against England at home. I can assure no bad blood would be caused when we ensure that the larger picture on the canvas is Indian cricket,” he wrote.
Virat Kohli would return to action next month during the Test series against England. The squad for the first two Tests of the four-match series was announced earlier this week. As expected, Virat Kohli will return as captain for the home Test series.
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