On the last day of the Oval Test, among the Englishmen who were seduced by Virat Kohli were two commentators. Nasser Hussein said the Indian governor had passed the major captain’s test “in bright colors”. Michael Vaughan, another former leader and social media influencer, called Kohli “an amazing character” who gave “a regular masterclass on how to win a test match”.
Exactly 48 hours later, the BCCI, in a subtle push to the captain with a sad record of ICC events, would appoint MS Dhoni as mentor for next month’s WorldT20. This would be the first official acknowledgment by the Indian council that the country’s biggest player was not the biggest leader.
In the past, there have been sidelines in the organization of the Indian team – Rahul Dravid was a tour consultant in England in 2014 – but the inclusion of a mentor who looks like Donny, an active IPL player, was the first. In addition to the obvious red flag of conflict of interest, the timing of the appointment had a layer of intrigue.
Captain Kohli’s scanner comes when the Indian team is watching a riot. The contract of coach Ravi Shastri and his support staff expires after World T20 and is unlikely to be renewed. In addition, unlike in the past, India now has an alternative captain with credible credentials.
On this tour in England, Rohit Sharma’s success as a tester opened his image as a player of all shapes and conditions. His heightened stature was underlined by his prominent role in the negotiations with the board for the cancellation of the Manchester test. Moreover, the overwhelming superiority of the Bombay Indians over the Royal Challengers Bangalore is a trivial matter that may entice the BCCI to look beyond Kohli.
So will Rohit replace Virat in the event that India fails to win the World T20? Like most things in BCCI’s ever-changing dynamics, this is a multi-choice question with Yes, No, options.
Before answering the question, take a look at the role of Dhoni. Following the word in the Indian cricket circuit, the one-time Indian cricket crisis manager is an “officer on a very specific duty”. Unusual to be a bat guru, very important to rank as a simple guard coach, the most decorated white ball leader in the country is holding Kohli in his hand, helping him win his first ICC Cup. Donny, for all practical purposes, is a captain’s coach. His brilliant resume makes him the most suitable for the job.
India’s last big white ball triumph was in 2013, when Donny lifted the Champions Cup. Add the 2011 World Cup and WorldT20 2007 to his name and Captain Cool Cricket Grand Slam is over.
“No one can lead this Indian team better than Donny. He has a lot of experience and the players trust him a lot. “Jay (Shah) thought Donny was the only person who could help the team during the T20 World Cup, so he called him,” said a BCCI secret. The “unique man” was a mere critique of the captain who has not yet won an IPL title.
This choir has grown. For quite some time now, discussions about Kohli’s captaincy have overtaken the office water cooler. Even the mainstream broadcaster King Kohli finds time to question the group’s problematic choice and controversial tactics. Sir Vivian Richards may have had Kohli as his heir, but no one seems to have seen shades of Mike Brearley on the world cricket poster.
Historically, all successful sports teams have a core group of tactics, but not this one. Almost every player who will play under Collie has been rejected from the starting lineup at least once. No senior was confident of his position on the sidelines, he was rarely a candidate leader.
Insecurity has rarely been watered down in the past, perhaps. The whispers about the intention of the fighters after the defeat of the WTC final by New Zealand came from the captain himself. Kohli, of course, later dismissed it as “outside noise.”
When Rohit played the IPL 2020 final in an injury cloud, anger sprang from “team management sources”. Once again, it was characterized as outside noise. In March, when asked about Ashwin’s future at T20, Kohli replied: “The question must make sense.” Months later, Aswin is on the team. Along with Dhoni’s presence, it seems that the invisible hands of power are slowly trying to take control.
During Kohli’s 7-year reign, India had a first-round first-round win in Australia and a long run at home. During this long period of stability, BCCI has failed in its institutional responsibility to draw up a succession plan. Unlike any other era in Indian cricket, Kolly remained the unrivaled ruler of Indian cricket. He got what he wanted – read Anil Kumble, Ravi Shastri.
Things changed earlier this year when Ajinkya Rahane left Brisbane while Kohli was on paternity leave. More Kane Williamson than Kohli, India under the less expressive Rahane showed resilience and intensity I had never seen before. Some myths have been debunked. Former Indian leader Bishan Singh Bendi said Rahan reminded him of Tiger Patawdi.
As soon as Kohli returned, Rahane hit his nose and fell into the background. From an inspirational captain in Australia until the end of his tour of England, he was a lieutenant who tried to justify his position on the sidelines.
The fall in Rahane shares coincided with Rohit’s coming of age in England, making him the designated captain on hold. Suddenly, there was a noise in the dressing room for a change at the top.
History shows that all the intrigues of the palace do not end in a coronation. Uprooting an icon like Collie will not be easy. There are some Rohit skeptics at BCCI. “He’s 34, so it can’t be a long-term solution, like Collie when he took Donny’s place. He also has physical problems. But that is my personal view. If we do not win the ICC events, we must think collectively. “Sometimes someone younger or maybe Rohit as a breakup,” said a board official.
Before the final day at The Oval, when the captain’s narrative suddenly changed, Kohli and his beating were brutally examined. In the final hours of the fourth test, with each fall of England during the dramatic collapse, the pressure was lifted by the captain.
But did India win because of a leadership masterclass? No one, not even the pitch, can be credited for Jasprit Bumrah’s two balls that can not play, change the game. As for the other hero of the last day Jadeja, as always, the only help he needed was a tough one on the field.
England’s two main wickets, David Malan and Joe Root, were a fortune. India’s think tank could not have created a field for Malan to run out of, nor could there be a plan to play Root in his form with a harmless Shardul Thakur, a gentle relaxer.
However, the celebration of Kohli in your face, his frantic solo war dance around India’s relatively silent embrace, made him central to the narrative. These painful points for his leadership – R. Ashwin warms the bench for four consecutive test matches in England, the team’s enduring confusion to show offensive intent or follow test kicks – were no longer part of the post-match discussions.
A victory in India under Koli makes you dizzy, throws you into ecstasy.
For the English cricketer, who faced the stress of missing cricket with a gift from the time Sir Ian Botham was simply named Beefy, Kohli’s brilliance made him an inspirational leader. But for those who invested more in Indian cricket, he remained a captain who needed a pilot.