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Virat Kohli – Leading by example

From Port of Spain to Bulawayo,Virat Kohli has grown in stature as skipper.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Bulawayo |
August 5, 2013 1:18:40 am

During the meeting to pick the Indian squad for the five-match ODI tour of Zimbabwe,the selectors were in a dilemma whether to name Virat Kohli as skipper or rest him. However,in the absence of MS Dhoni,it was decided that Kohli should be given the opportunity to clock more matches as skipper. Also read: Mishra’s six sweeps all five

They were not let down. Kohli,who is being groomed to take over from Dhoni in the long run,showed that he had a mind of his own when it came to taking decisions: promoting an out-of-form Suresh Raina to No.3 and giving those who have have warmed the bench longer a chance than fielding newcomer Parvez Rasool. Also read: ‘Hard to replace Jadeja with Rasool’

He continued to make runs by hitting 197 in the three innings,which included a century in the first match at Harare.

But only by going further back to another century made in early July against the West Indies in Port of Spain would the true assessment of Kohli’s internship as skipper be complete.

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Inauspicious start

Dhoni had hurt his hamstring after the narrow loss to the West Indies and in the next game the skipper’s absence was felt after India,led by the understudy,slumped to a massive 161-run loss to Sri Lanka. The question being asked was whether the Champions Trophy win had drained the Indian team of enthusiasm. Kohli responded with a century (102) in the must-win game against West Indies. Also read: Jadeja on a dream run

In the next game,the Kohli-led side beat Sri Lanka to enter the final,where MS Dhoni’s finishing skills won the day for India.

Kohli’s ton in Port of Spain proved that he can lead by example. And against lightweights Zimbabwe,Kohli became the fastest batsman to reach 15 ODI centuries in terms of innings.

India opener Shikhar Dhawan believes that Kohli loves responsibility. “He is a very aggressive guy and likes to lead from front. He wants to take up the responsibility. He keeps changing the field around because he is always trying to attack and take wickets,” Dhawan said.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra,who finished with 18 wickets in the series,is one of the players who has flourished under Kohli after being given the opportunity to play all five games. He’s a very positive and supportive captain. He not only talks to the players but also listens to them. He shares a good rapport with players but what is most important is that he is very confident about himself,” Mishra said. Also read: For Heath Streak,a different kind of game

As Kohli puts it he is learning a few tactics from Dhoni. “It is not that difficult as captain to motivate the players. Things have gone well so far but I can only learn from the big man (Dhoni) himself. I have learned a few tactics from him and used them on the field. I have not changed my attitude as far as batting goes and I try to take responsibility,” Kohli said.

Once the series was wrapped up,Kohli dropped himself down the order in the final two low-scoring games to allow out of form players or those who hadn’t been given a match to bat up the order. In the fourth ODI,Raina made a half century at No.3 after going without one for eleven games. Ajinkya Rahane,who didn’t get a game till the fifth and final one made 50 at No.3.

Though he lost his cool when he was given out by the third umpire following a controversial catch in the second ODI,Kohli did enough as captain and batsman to make news for the right reasons by the end of the series.

“It’s always a pleasing thing for a captain to have such individuals who have a lot of self-belief and are eager to make a dent in international cricket,so I’ve been really fortunate,” Kohli added after India won 5-0.

His teammates are happy to return the compliment.

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