In the wake of the heavy loss in England, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar believes that Virat Kohli still has a lot to learn when it comes to Test captaincy.
Just a few months ago, Virat Kohli’s captaincy had taken the cricketing world by storm. He led India to nine consecutive series wins in Tests after replacing the legendary MS Dhoni. Every team that visited India was blown away with utmost ease. But then came 2018 and India visited South Africa and England.
And it is safe to say that Kohli has not managed to reverse the trend of his predecessors. Just like most of the previous teams, the Kohli-led side failed to win overseas too. And what has made things tougher for Kohli is his captaincy.
Time and again during the England series, his captaincy was questioned. In a series where he looked class apart with the bat, his captaincy overshadowed his batting. From his field placements to his choice of bowlers, Kohli’s tactics have come under the scanner time and again.
Whether it was removing an in-form R Ashwin from bowling when Sam Curran was going great guns at Edgbaston, dropping Umesh Yadav for Kuldeep Yadav in pacer friendly pitch at Lord’s, persisting with R Ashwin in Southampton despite his poor bowling or the struggles with the DRS, Kohli has not managed to make a mark with his leadership.
And now Sunil Gavaskar has said India’s skipper needs to learn.
“He (Virat) still has a lot to learn. Like we saw in South Africa earlier and now in England too, there were instances when right field placements or timely bowling changes made by him could have made a big difference. That was missing again. It has just been two years since he took over as a captain. So at times the lack of experience shows.
“And whatever experience he had was that of Indian pitches where wickets fall quickly. He did not have the experience of breaking a good partnership. Hopefully, he will learn that by the time we tour Australia. And won’t let their lower order run away with momentum,” Gavaskar told India Today.
India will have a chance to make amends for the loss in South Africa and England when they visit Australia this year. And Gavaskar feels India does not need to overhaul the team. At the same time, he pointed out the weak areas of the playing eleven.
“You don’t need massive changes because that upsets the rhythm and confidence of the entire team. But you need to find the areas where you think there were weaknesses. They need to be corrected. The need of the hour is to be brutally honest, to see that this is the area we didn’t clearly measure up to. There is a need to fill that place up. That is an area they need to looked at very, very hard. We need to think about the opening pair, the middle order batsman and the all-rounders who have to be selected carefully depending on the pitch and opposition we are playing against,” opined Gavaskar.
Another decision of Kohli that has attracted criticism is his unwillingness to play practise games. India did not play any warm-up game before the series against South Africa. The lack of preparation was clearly visible as India lost the series 3-1. Kohli & Co. did play one in England. But what was initially an official first-class game, turned into a glorified practice session in the name of warm-up game with all 18 players taking part.
Gavaskar is hopeful the team will learn from its mistakes when it visits Australia in the winter.
“Well, the results are there. We saw what happened in South Africa and what has now happened in England. It is an old saying that if you fail to prepare then you must be prepared to fail. All of us who’d been around for some time knew that preparation is such an important aspect of international sport and were aware this was likely to happen. The fact that it happened does not surprise us that much. So, hopefully, the same mistakes won’t be repeated again in Australia even though they might not be that strong an opposition without Steve Smith and David Warner.”
India’s next assignment, meanwhile, is the Asia Cup, starting on September 15 in UAE. Kohli has been rested for the tournament. In his absence, Rohit Sharma will lead the side.