Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly has said Virat Kohli should consider himself lucky to lead the Indian team in as many as 13 Tests in the recently-concluded home season.
The marathon season that began with a three-match Test series against New Zealand in September came to an end on March 28, when Team India thrashed Australia by eight wickets in Dharamsala.
During the last six months, India blanked New Zealand 3-0, thrashed England 4-0 in the five-match series, beat Bangladesh in the one-off Test before getting the better of Australia in the Border-Gavaskar series. Overall, the home team won 10 matches in the season while lost one and drew the other two.
In a column for the ICC, Ganguly said:
“Virat will consider himself lucky as I don’t recall any Indian captain and his team having an opportunity to play as many as 13 Tests at home in a single season.”
But at the same time, Ganguly praised the world number team for their performances throughout the season.
“You still have to win a game, even at home, but we all knew India would win at least eight Tests, and they won as many as 10, missing out on a sure win in one, saving one and losing one.”
He also hoped to see India replicating their dominating performance outside of the country too.
“Having watched the last 13 home Tests, I hope Virat and his team really has the potential to win anywhere — in or outside India.”
Ganguly rated India’s win over Australia in Dharamsala as the ‘most memorable’ of this highly-fruitful season.
“I was sitting at home around lunch time on Day three when Australia began its second innings. Over the next hour or so, I watched such great fast and hostile bowling by Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The way they got the Australians hoping and succumbing to the pace, I am so pleased for Virat.
“The most memorable win came in conditions actually tailor-made for the Australians more than the Indians. The fact that India beat the Aussies at their game will surely give another twist to Virat’s captaincy,” he said.
Ganguly believes Virat’s turnaround as skipper happened after the heartbreaking loss in Galle in 2015 when India was bowled out for 112 while chasing 176. Since then, Team India remained unbeaten in 19 Tests before their streak came to an end following a massive 333-run loss against Australia in Pune last month.
“I think the trigger happened sometime in August 2015 when, from a seemingly unassailable position, India slipped and lost the Galle Test.
“For a young captain and an equally young team, it was heartbreak and I was actually worried for Virat Kohli. But I was wrong. Like any good leader, Virat sensed the problem, spoke to his team and what has followed since has reinforced my belief in him and his team.
“When I was the captain, and with such a brilliant team, we all knew winning abroad would make our cricket memorable for the fans. Our overseas success was due to these three factors, and in that order only: bowling, batting, slip catching. I can see the same level of hunger in this team and this is the legacy of this home season.
“The captain is more passionate and more of a leader than anything else. He wants to win and win every day, and while it may not be possible always, I see Virat not settling for anything that isn’t No 1,” Ganguly further wrote.
Time and again, Ganguly has expressed his liking for the India skipper and shedding some light on that, he wrote:
“Why do I salute him the most? During the England series and in the Kolkata Test against New Zealand, I spoke at length with Virat and not once did he ask me or the curator for any alterations to the pitch. He was just willing to take on the opposition, no matter how the conditions were.”