India vs England: Irrespective of which direction Virat Kohli’s captaincy career goes after the series loss against England, the Indian skipper would be remembered for a long time for a strategy that he executed outside the cricketing field. In his first 38 Tests as captain, Virat Kohli didn’t play the same XI in two consecutive games – most by an Indian captain. He is only behind South Africa’s Graeme Smith who played an unchanged XI in successive games after 44 Tests between 2003 and 2007.
Both Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri may say that these changes were made on the basis of opposition and conditions but, there is no hiding from the fact that some them were made just for the sake of it and were bizarre in nature – leaving Ajinkya Rahane – one of India’s most successful batsmen overseas for the first two Tests against South Africa or dropping Cheteshwar Pujara from the first Test of the ongoing series against England.
As it turns out, the frequent chopping and changing by Kohli and Ravi Shastri has left residues of self-doubt in the team. A player told The Indian Express that it would have been better if the management had stuck to the same XI for the first three Tests in England and would have given everyone a chance to prove themselves. “That gives a different kind of confidence. Kohli is a good man and wants the best for the team and doesn’t mean to create it but the changes make you doubt yourself. It’s our mistake to feel like that probably but we are humans,” he was quoted as saying.
While frequent changes make life tough for youngsters, they also create a sense of insecurity among senior players. According to the report, one of the senior players even texted his agent friend and enquired what was said about him at the press conference.
“You start to second guess. Kyun aisey kar rahe hain? You then start feeling you are on your own here,” another player was quoted as saying.
It won’t be fair to put the entire blame on Virat Kohli as Ravi Shastri has an equal say in team selection. He is also involved with the players during practice sessions and can be seen giving them tips very often. But, the question is why is he allowing so many changes!
The problem could also be with communication but a member of the support staff denied it. “Honestly, I haven’t seen a more open and communicative leadership group than these two-three people. They always say what they feel and you must realise sometimes because of their own insecurities, players can say stuff,” he was quoted as saying by IE.
This isn’t the first time when an Indian team has lost away from home and questions are being raised. However, this is probably the first time in his cricketing career when Kohli would be put under immense pressure and asked some serious questions. And, it is also the time when he would need his team the most.
In his early days as captain, Kohli was described as a ‘generation-changing player’ by R Ashwin. The off-spinner had said the difference between MS Dhoni and Kohli was in the way they communicated. Probably, Kohli needs to look back to those days and have clear communication with the team for the days ahead.