Delhi-born. India Under-19 Captain. Reserve batsman for India. Regular No.3 batsman for India. Vice-Captain of India (limited overs). Test Captain of India. The journey of Virat Kohli has been an inspiring one. The year of 2015 was something more uplifting for the stylish batsman.
Before holding reigns over the Test circuit, Kohli has been given the job to handle the ODI team whenever Captain Cool has been absent. His 2014 records state that India has had two series whitewashes under him in the limited overs contests.
The right-handed batsman has been regular in Team India’s playing XI for the past two years. After attaining vice-captaincy of the ODI side in the year of 2012, Kohli reached new heights when he was crowned with the Test captaincy of his team. When India toured Australia, Dhoni’s injury forced him to stay away from the 1st Test, thereby handing over the Test captaincy to Virat for the first time. Kohli scored a century on his maiden-captaincy Test while becoming the fourth Indian to score a hundred on Test captaincy debut. India was set a target of 364 to be scored on the fifth day of the match. Kohli came in to bat when the Indian innings was reduced to 57/2 and started batting aggressively. He put on 185 runs for the third wicket with M Vijay before Vijay’s dismissal, which triggered a batting collapse. From 242/2, India was bowled out for 315 with Kohli’s 141 off 175 balls being the top score. Kohli noted that his team was looking for a win and not a draw while also saying that it was “the best Test I have been part of”. Kohli’s second innings ton was hailed by several Australian commentators as the finest fourth-innings performance they had ever seen in Australia.
After which MS Dhoni made his comeback but soon left after announcing his retirement from the longer format, leaving Kohli to lead the side on the 4th Test and thereafter, it has been only Kohli and his young Indian side who have been dawning the white jerseys and representing their nation.
His new-found captaincy has been welcomed by the Indian fans. He took his attacking approach from his batting and applied it to his leading tactics. His aggressive approach as a captain was loved by most as fans were not very satisfied with Captain Cool’s calm and composed captaincy. Kohli started Test matches with attacking fields and stuck with it even though the batsmen were scoring. This consistently kept the pressure on the batsman and in that horrid situation, they lost their wickets and Kohli got praised for his leadership.
The tour of Sri Lanka was the first milestone that Kohli achieved as a captain. He defeated Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka to hand India their first away series win in over 4 years and his first win as a full-time Test captain. Even though they lost the 1st Test, Kohli’s much-appreciated attacking captaincy and some great team performances ensured Team India a 2-1 victory in the 3-match series.
His superb form as a captain continued when South Africa toured India last month. Although they won both the T20 and ODI series convincingly, it was the Indian spin trio and Kohli’s captaincy that ended the world record of South Africa where they remained unbeaten in an Away Test series for 9 years. India almost whitewashed South Africa 3-0 in their 4-match series, hadn’t rain washed away the 2nd Test where India were looking in control.
He has been very supportive towards his bowlers. He states that the bowlers need to take out 20 wickets in order to win the match. Keeping the pitch in mind, Kohli goes for an additional bowler whose bowling style would be well supported by the pitch and conditions they would be playing in.
Even though records are being broken, Kohli as a batsman has been overshadowed by Kohli as a captain. His primary job of scoring runs took a toll after the added responsibility to lead the side. His form with the bat has not been a very spectacular one. Starting the year on a high, Kohli maintained his run-machine title when India toured Australia, early in the year, scoring 692 runs at a remarkable average of 86.5 with four centuries and a fifty.
But since then, his ability to hit the ball and keep the board ticking, which also won him the captaincy titles, has taken a backseat. With just one century in Sri Lanka’s series, Kohli failed to impress with his gloves and the wooden plank between them. Keeping the Delhi Test aside, where he batted rather well, considering it was his home ground, all other Tests against South Africa never saw the ‘run-machine’ Kohli as kept returning to the pavilion before making his mark.
Although India holds the no.2 rankings in Tests, with the probability of being no. 1 in near future, Kohli will have to work severely on his batting to shut the critics from questioning his inclusion in the playing XI only for the sake that he is the captain. He has to play some prominent knocks, like he did in Australia in January, to lead as a proper captain.
His captaincy has potential, with the possibility of taking India to new heights in the longer formats of the game, but his batting also need to keep up!