Kohli needs to control emotions

Cricket: Delhi man, India's latest Test skipper, has to adopt a far mature approach

Kohli needs to control emotions

MS Dhoni the unflappable character and Virat Kohli the hot-blooded youngster are as different as the chalk is from the cheese. One was an iceman and the other is a volatile character.  

After Dhoni called time on his Test career after the Melbourne Test, the captaincy mantle in the longer format has naturally been passed on to Kohli who will lead India in the fourth and final Test of the series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

From September 2007 in the shorter versions and from October 2009 in Tests, the Indian team has been used to a particular kind of leadership by Dhoni. Unruffled even in the most strenuous of situations, Dhoni put his charges under ease and extracted the best from them. The only time he got annoyed, and that we may still get to see as he will be leading the team in ODIs and T20Is, was when someone didn’t give his best in fielding or when his batting partner showed some laxity while running between the wickets.

India will now have to come to terms with Kohli’s style of captaincy that promises to be a whole lot different from Dhoni’s. Kohli is fiercely competitive, confident in the knowledge of his immense talent and combative by nature. His performance with the bat, three top-class centuries in six innings, in the series has been exceptional. And his contribution in India being more than competitive on this tour has been significant. But his exploits with the bat have attracted as much attention as his on-field behaviour.       

Kohli is aggressive, he loves challenges, he doesn’t mind a fight and he even thrives in those situations. “I like playing against Australia because it is very hard for them to stay calm and I don’t mind an argument on the field and it really excites me and brings the best out of me. So, they don’t seem to be learning the lesson,” he said after his 169 in the first innings here.

Kohli saying Aussies can’t stay calm is as amusing as David Warner, who punched Joe Root in the face and was packed off from England, asking the players not to cross the line.

Kohli has also come under fire for his player-respect issue but to play the devil’s advocate he was only replying to a pointed question. “Do you respect Australia and Australian cricketers” was the question and he effectively said “I respect those who respect me.” But his subsequent run-ins with the Australians have been obvious and sometimes totally unnecessary. As any other player in the side, you can get away with a censure or even a fine but as a leader you have to set an example for others in on-field conduct. If the captain himself goes astray, how can he rein in his players?    
  
Standing behind the stumps, Dhoni made limited communication with his bowlers while Kohli is hands-on, constantly in the ear of a bowler. Reminds you of a certain Tendulkar? What can be more disconcerting is Kohli’s call, almost insistence, for his players to embrace his in-your-face attitude which comes naturally to him. Someone like Ajinkya Rahane or Cheteshwar Pujara or R Ashwin may not be too comfortable wearing that cloak.

What works for Kohli need not necessarily work for others. The Tendulkars, the Dravids, the Kumbles and Laxmans didn’t believe in gamesmanship but that hardly diminished their competitiveness. The sooner Kohli realises this the better it’s for the team.

Rahul Dravid, who led Dhoni and then played under him, made a telling observation about the Jharkhand player’s team-first attitude. “Knowing MS, if the series was alive, I don't think he would have taken the decision (to retire) in the middle of the series,” the former India captain said. “… but having seen that the series was already gone, maybe he felt that if he was going to go, then maybe this was the time to do it, and to give Virat Kohli a Test match in Australia to captain, Wriddhiman Saha another opportunity in a Test match, and to start the process of taking India's Test team forward." 

Twice in the second innings of the third Test when India were struggling to save the match, Kohli almost got run out twice going for non-existent singles but his ire against his partners, M Vijay and Rahane, was unfathomable. “It’s all about you,” said Brad Haddin, not one to miss the opportunity. It’s time Kohli learnt to control his emotions as well as his innings.

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019


Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on Deccanherald.com/news/lok-sabha-elections-2019 


Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry