Vi­rat the bats­man wins, Vi­rat the cap­tain loses


VI­RAT KOHLI the bats­man ex­or­cised the ghosts of a hor­ren­dous 2014 se­ries but his cap­taincy left a lot to be de­sired in the just­con­cluded se­ries against Eng­land which again turned out to be a case of 'what it could have been'.

Kohli is, in fact, right when he says that bar­ring Lord's Test, they were not to­tally out­played but Eng­land played bet­ter cricket dur­ing key mo­ments dur­ing the 1-4 loss.

The se­ries was tes­ti­mony that bats­man Kohli is heads and shoul­ders above his peers not just in In­dia but in world cricket.

The 593 runs, with two hun­dreds and two half cen­turies, and his bat­tle of at­tri­tion with old neme­sis Jimmy An­der­son will re­main stuff of leg­ends. The dif­fer­ence was stark with the sec­ond­high­est scorer be­ing KL Rahul -- 299 runs, 149 of those com­ing in a dead rub­ber when the pres­sure was off.

Where Kohli erred was not re­al­is­ing that his team­mates were not as pre­pared for test­ing English con­di­tions as he was. The In­dian team re­duced the du­ra­tion of its lone prac­tice game against County Cham­pi­ons Es­sex, a move that was crit­i­cised by none other than Su­nil Gavaskar.

Kohli, how­ever, dif­fered stat­ing that prac­tice matches are worth it only if there is a good op­po­si­tion to com­pete against and pitches of Test qual­ity. 'Kohli should un­der­stand that if he doesn't play for a month, he would still come out and score runs. But oth­ers need prac­tice. And in prac­tice games you won't get Test qual­ity at­tacks. But the bats­men and bowlers in match sit­u­a­tion add miles to their legs. It's bet­ter than tak­ing throw­downs," Gavaskar had said on air for the se­ries broad­cast­ers.

The big­gest prob­lem that plagued In­dia was dodgy team se­lec­tion.

Chetesh­war Pu­jara, who played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the Trent Bridge vic­tory and scored a de­ter­mined hun­dred was dropped from the first Test based on his poor county form.

The Test spe­cial­ist ended with 278 runs in the se­ries.

Kohli's over-de­pen­dence on Hardik Pandya's all-round abil­i­ties in red ball cricket can also be ques­tioned. A to­tal of 164 runs in­clud­ing a half cen­tury at a time when In­dia was about to de­clare and a five-wicket haul in Trent Bridge were his only tan­gi­ble con­tri­bu­tions across four Tests.

That he never pos­sessed the de­fen­sive tech­nique to bat at No 6 was ev­i­dent and he was ill at ease against the swing­ing de­liv­er­ies. His op­po­site num­ber Sam Cur­ran be­came an x-fac­tor in the se­ries with two match win­ning all round per­for­mances -- at Edg­bas­ton (1st Test) and the se­ries-clinch­ing fourth game at Southamp­ton.

The skip­per's per­sis­tence with Shikhar Dhawan, who has been a walk­ing wicket out­side the sub-con­ti­nent, also cre­ated prob­lems at the top of the or­der.

Since the 2013 South Africa tour, Dhawan has shown both lack of tech­nique and tem­per­a­ment in top Test play­ing na­tions.

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