Just a month or two ago, people were shunning Virat Kohli over his surprising failure in England. Not a very uncommon thing from the ever-skeptical Indian supporters though, as he has turned the tables once again. Not only as a world class batsman, no — but as an upcoming aggressive leader who’s ready to take the game to the enemy.
Virat made early headlines in his cricketing career for leading India to U-19 World Cup glory. Ever since he flourished in the international stage, cricket lovers all over the world have been polarized into having a love-hate relationship with him. Many asked for some of the burden of captaincy to be relieved off the 2011 World Cup winning captain MS Dhoni and to be handed to Kohli. He was made vice captain some time ago, but didn’t get much hands on leading.
Things changed however, in the July 2013 tour of Zimbabwe. Kohli led India to a 5-0 whitewash of the Zimbabwean cricket team, with this being the first instance of India getting a ODI series whitewash outside home. Since then, Virat has always been looked at as a second choice for leadership.
But with this Sri Lankan series his raw aggression was exposed; he believed not in beating the opposition, but scarring them, ruthlessly. Throughout the 5 ODIs, whenever the audience did not see the best of Virat with the willow, they did see the best of Virat with the captain tag. And he did not disappoint. Even when the Sri Lankans did try to put up a last challenge in the last ODI (after being battered by Rohit Sharma’s all time record knock of 264 in the 4th ODI), he shepherded a thrilling run chase to make it five to love for India.
People, most of them the critics, have already started drawing parallels to Dhoni and Kohli. Although they both lead by example, one thing that clearly sets them aside is the temperament. While Dhoni has been known famously (and infamously) to keep a cool tone and a cool head even when things are not going their way, Kohli instead looks to rampage the opposition. Many have panned Dhoni’s apparent lack of attacking instinct even when the team was being dominated in the England and Australia tours. Virat in future can be the perfect complement to this and change the attitude in the dressing room.
His fine decisions in setting the field and in taking unorthodox risks have already caught the eye. He sent Rayudu to bat first down, instead demoting himself down a place for the team’s sake. The move surely paid off as Rayudu scored a brilliant hundred. An excellent athlete himself, he is always keen on instilling confidence in the team.
The future of Indian captaincy seems bright then, at least for now. After the 2015 World Cup, Virat may have to face the heat all by himself.
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