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.