Kohli’s Right, It’s No Big Deal

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Dileep Premachan­dran

In the hours since Aus­tralia i n f l ic t e d a 3 3 3 -r un de - feat on In­dia at the Ma h a r a s ht r a C r i c k e t As­so­ci­a­tion Sta­dium in Pune, these are some of the things I’ve heard and read, in print and on so­cial me­dia. These are the opin­ions of jour­nal­ists and al­leged fans, peo­ple whom you would ex­pect to have a ba­sic grasp of facts, not to men­tion an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of how capri­cious pro­fes­sional sport can be. Drop Jayant Ya­dav Drop Ajinkya Ra­hane. He only does the bare min­i­mum. Vi­rat Kohli is ar­ro­gant and over­rated. In­dia can’t play on turn­ing tracks. Let’s ad­dress these one by one.

Jayant Ya­dav scored 221 run­sand­tookninewick­etsin the three Tests he played again­stEng­land.His­lastin­nings be­fore Pune was a cen­tury from No 9. One bad match, and he’s on the chop­ping block.

‘Bare min­i­mum’ Ra­hane av­er­aged 69.66 in South Africa (2013), 54 in New Zealand (2014), made a sparkling cen­tury that helped In­dia win the Lord’s Test (2014), av­er­aged 57 in Aus­tralia (2014-15),scoredthe­hun­dredthat­was in­stru­men­tal in In­dia restor­ing par­ity in Sri Lanka (2015), crafted twin hun­dreds in a Delhi Test where no South African bats­man man­aged even 50 (2015), and reeled off cen­turies away in the Caribbean and at home to New Zealand.

In­his­lastTest­be­forePune,hemade 82 and 28. Yes, he failed in five in­nings again­stEng­land.Let’susethatad­mit­tedly small sam­ple to slag him off.

Kohli­isover­rated.Let’ssee,he’sonly made1219run­sthishome­sea­son,only scored four dou­ble-cen­turies since July. As for ar­ro­gance, all I saw when hewas­con­front­ed­with­knee-jerkre­ac­tions and un­in­formed ques­tions were un­fail­ing­ly­po­litereplies.

As for turn­ing tracks, the In­dian sea­son hasn’t re­ally been played on green seam­ers. In­dia’s av­er­age firstin­nings score in those nine Tests was 514. No, that’s not a typo.

It’s enough to make you won­der if cyn­i­cism has be­come the na­tional lan­guage. Kohliputitbest­when he said: “I don’t know if peo­ple were think­ing that we couldn’t lose at all, but in our mind there was no such thing. If we don’t play good cricket, then any team can beat us.”

That’s the na­ture of sport. It’s why it cap­ti­vates. In­dia, 66-1 out­siders, beat West Indies in a World Cup fi­nal. Buster Dou­glas, such an un­der­dog that most casi­nos in Ve­gas re­fused to of­fer odds, knocked out Iron Mike Tyson. Greece won Euro 2004, beat­ing France, the Czech Re­pub­lic and Por­tu­gal along the way. Since Kohli be­came cap­tain on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, this is the first time In­dia have been sec­ond-best from gun to tape. Galle was a freak re­sult, a game In­dia dom­i­nated for three-fourths of its du­ra­tion be­fore a once-in-al­ife­timein­nings–aid­edby dol­lops of luck – took it away from them. Judg­ing­bythere­ac­tion to this loss, you could have been for­given for think­ing In­dia had lost 19 straight. For­tu­nately, the play­ers re­tain a sense of per­spec­tive that mostof those­watch­ing­don’tseemto. “It’s no big deal,” said Kohli, words that are sure to be twisted out of con­text and used against him at an op­por­tune time. “It’showyoushould stay calm and com­posed when you win. You shouldn’t getoverex­cited.The same way you re­act when you lose, some­thing that you take on the chin.

“We take fail­ures and losses as an op­por­tu­nity to learn. And the last time we had a per­for­mance like this (in Galle), we had the most out­stand­ing run af­ter that.”

They did that in Sri Lanka, and in the sound and fury over this de­ba­cle, it’s easy to for­get how dom­i­nant they had been since – 3-0 against South Africa (would have been a clean sweep but for rain in Ban­ga­lore), 2-0 against West Indies (away), 3-0 against New Zealand, 4-0 against Eng­land, and com­fort­able vic­tors in the one-off Test against Bangladesh.

The per­fect sea­son, if there is such a thing,is­no­longer­pos­si­ble­forIn­dia.But if we’re ask­ing for heads to roll on the ba­sis of one game, rather than the 13 games that went be­fore, it says a lot more about us and gold­fish-like at­ten­tion­spansthanit­doesabout­the­p­lay­ers.

Jayant and Ra­hane have done enough to be given more than one chance to make it count this se­ries

There have been calls, none of­fi­cial, to axe both Ajinkya Ra­hane (top) and Jayant Ya­dav

MUM­BAI MIR­ROR

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