Kohli stamps captaincy class

With series in the bag, dominant India look to continue with their experiments.

Kohli stamps captaincy class

The overriding theme of India’s series win over Sri Lanka has been its emphatic nature.

Indian batsmen were relentless in their run-hunt, while the bowlers seldom allowed the opposition a free run.

It was as complete a team effort as you can recollect from an Indian side in limited overs matches.

They have wrapped up the series with effortless victories at Cuttack, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, transforming the fourth ODI at Eden Gardens on Thursday, and the final tie at Ranchi on Sunday occasions to experiment with the combinations in view of the World Cup.

But largely all such collective pursuit of excellence will have an interesting sub-plot – the story of an individual who stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Here, India have Virat Kohli in that role. He hasn’t shone brightest with the bat in this series, as Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane were India’s top three run-getters thus far.

In fact, Kohli has just one fifty from three innings. But he was astute and intuitive as the skipper, and spontaneous as a man-manager.

On the field, Kohli was aggressive, ready to make things happen rather than waiting for things to happen.

His decision to take Power Play early in the first match at Cuttack was an example of that.

It not only provided Indian innings further momentum, but took the Lankans by surprise also.

The islanders couldn’t react to Kohli’s smartness in the same vein, and India amassed 62 runs from the five-over block from 24 to 28.

India raced away like a sports car, and the Lankans could not prevent the hosts’ surge from that point.

The image Kohli often conveys is that of a brash, headstrong new generation cricketer.

The Delhi man too contributes to that picture with his animated presence on the field, and flashy style off it. But in this series he has showed a selfless side of him.

For sometime now, the number three position in the Indian limited-over set up belongs to Kohli.

But in the last three matches he demoted himself to number four, giving Rayudu a chance up the order. Peripherally, it is a minor change.

But it requires a lot of courage and adjustment in mindset to move away from your place of comfort. There, he also showed a mind free of insecurities.

Different method

Kohli explained it. “There were times in the past when I was part of the team, not leading it, and wondering why a particular thing was not happening for the team and a different method could have been adopted. So, this gives me an opportunity to try out something different, and it opens up my vision too. Here I can experiment the ideas that I have, which at the time I think will work for the team. I strongly believe in whatever I do, and that’s why I am able to execute whatever plans I have in my mind,” he said.

Kohli said the team too has responded to his urges, making him look an even better captain.

“This gives me an opportunity to take the guys along with me, and they too have responded with the same level of intensity that I expect from them. The reason why I made look good on the field is the way team has responded to my ideas. That relation between the players and the leader is very important and I think in this team it has worked out beautifully,” he noted.

Some might think why so much attention has been given to Kohli’s captaincy.

After all, he is just deputing for an injured MS Dhoni, and he will have to vacate the seat once the Jharkhand man returns, possibly in the second Test against Australia next month.

Kohli stepped in at a time when his batting form was dipped and his mind possibly a nest of doubts.

However, Kohli never allowed his personal struggles hinder the team’s progress, and went about the task of leading the side with confidence.

“I don’t focus too much on individual goals as I believe that could take the focus away from the goals that you want to achieve as a team,” said Kohli.

The conviction in his words and the way he shepherded the team did not mirror a stand-in skipper.

But it projected Kohli’s clear understanding of his destiny.

Perhaps, now he wants the world too know that India will not be lacking a strong leader in the post-Dhoni era.

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