Virat Kohli may have not won an ICC trophy with India, but there is no doubt that he has taken this team to unprecedented heights in world cricket. With 39 Test wins, he is India’s most successful Test captain of all time, and with him in charge, the Indian team has accomplished distinctions that not too many thought it could.
From winning a Test series in Australia to having England on the mat earlier this year, the Test skipper has transformed India into a formidable unit. Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh on Monday shared the perfect anecdote to show how the Indian Test captain played the role of a leader and shaped this present India team.
Harbhajan Singh: In Virat Kohli’s Captaincy, Indian Team Goes To Australia Thinking To Win Test Series
Harbhajan Singh said that Virat Kohli’s aggressive attitude on-field goes with Team India besides admitting that it perfectly suits this team and that they need more players like him to lead this Indian team forward.
“It suits perfectly actually and we need players like him in the team to can take the team forward. When team used to go to Australia, they used to think about how to save the Test match. In Virat’s captaincy, team goes to Australia thinking how they can win the Test series,” he said.
Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh has played a lot of cricket under MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. A few days after announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket, the ace spinner pointed the difference between the two leaders. Harbhajan Singh reckoned had Virat Kohli been as soft as MS Dhoni, he would not have scored so many runs. The veteran spinner also confessed that when MS Dhoni was leading the side in Australia, the goal was to draw the Test.
Harbhajan Singh ended his glittering 23 years career as the fourth-highest wicket-taker from India in Tests with 417 wickets and fifth among Indian bowlers in ODIs with 269 scalps. Harbhajan Singh played a key role in the historic Kolkata Test in 2001, wherein he picked up a match haul of 13 wickets and became the first-ever Indian bowler to take a Test hat-trick.
He played a key role in helping India win the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and was later instrumental in India becoming the first team to win a World Cup at home in 2011.
Virat Kohli’s Aggressive Approach Made Him The Player He Is Nowadays: Harbhajan Singh
The veteran spinner, who announced his retirement last Saturday, recalled one of his conversations with Virat Kohli hinting towards the latter’s Adelaide knock of 141 in 2014 against Australia where the 33-year-old had stressed India’s need to fight and win series in overseas conditions and not aim to save the Test.
“I remember in one of those series, where he had scored a lot of runs, although India had lost the Test series. India had to chase some 400 runs in that match and Kohli had scored a big century. So when he returned to the pavilion I told him that match could have ended in a draw, but he replied that ‘there is no importance of a drawn Test, either you win or you lose and the day we learn to fight, we will learn to win and someday we will’,” Harbhajan recalled.
“And that is the change you have noticed in this Indian side. They went to Australia and beat them twice, they played well in England and I hope they beat South Africa in this series. So Kohli has perfectly played his role as a leader. And the aggressive approach, that has made Kohli the player he is today. Had he been soft like MS Dhoni, I don’t think he would have scored these many runs.”
India did lose that series in 2014 where the current Test skipper had taken over the captaincy from MS Dhoni following his shock retirement post the Adelaide game, but four years later, he led the team to a historic Test series win Down Under, which was India’s first-ever win in Australia.
The team emulated the feat in the 2020/21 series as well, despite missing most, if not all their regular players, which included a famous Gabba win. The regular skipper too had taken a paternity leave after playing only the 1st Test which India lost comprehensively.