After losing the Test series against South Africa 2-1, India went into the ongoing Test series with an opportunity to show that this unit is as good away from home as it is in its own backyard. But with England now taking an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series, it is only natural that questions are being asked of skipper Virat Kohli and his boys.
Speaking to India Today, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar made it clear that people were bound to be disappointed with Kohli’s leadership skills and that a lot was expected off him when he took over the reins from MS Dhoni. But the former opener feels that the run-machine hasn’t lived up to potential when it comes to leading the team.
“When Virat took over captaincy, everybody thought that it will be completely different because you had MSD (Dhoni) who was cool, calm and collected and here was somebody who was very passionate. Not that being calm, cool and collected means that you are not passionate about winning, but here was a person who had a completely different approach and outlook to the game. Everybody would be disappointed looking at the result because when Virat took over as captain, it seemed like the team would head into a new direction under him. The team looked hungry to win and seemed more hopeful of doing well under Kohli.
“Everyone thought that he will bring in a lot more energy into the team. So quite naturally, there will be questions asked about his captaincy. Everybody knew that the three toughest series for India was going to be in South Africa, England and the forthcoming Australia tour. Before this all that India played were more like practice tours in Sri Lanka and West Indies,” he said.
Gavaskar went on to add that expectations were further raised after India came back to beat Australia at home after the visitors won the Pune Test.
“Even the way in which India came back to beat Australia in the Test series last year after losing the first match, that gave us the impression that India wouldn’t back down to any challenge under captain Kohli. It seemed India would always play with their heads held high. But the captain is only as good as his team. As a batsman Kohli has lived up to the expectations and even more. He has done everything possible as a batsman.
“If only the other batsmen could have played like him. If any other batsman could have scored over 400-500 runs then India wouldn’t have lost Test series in South Africa and in England. This is like a learning curve for Kohli at the moment. Fans are bound to be disappointed as the expectations were quite high with this team. Looking at how they performed before this at home, in West Indies and in Sri Lanka, everybody were hoping to see history being made on foreign soil,” Gavaskar said.
He further said that it wasn’t humanly possible for Kohli to win India games single-handedly all the time. “When you go in with five batsmen then you are bound to be in such a situation where you rely so much only on one player, Virat Kohli to get you the big hundreds. He can’t do it every time, he’s human,” Gavaskar explained. “To expect that the lower order (to save India after the top-order collapse) after that Kohli-Rahane partnership was broken, to get even another 60-70 runs was too much.”