South Asia has witnessed tremendous cricket captaincies under the reigns of Imran Khan and M.S. Dhoni. Both led their teams to world cup galore and are remembered for their contributions towards the five-day game as well. In the aftermath of India’s recent series loss with England, Virat Kohli indicated that the scoreline does not reflect his squad’s performance and that the competition is a revival of test cricket. However, Kohli’s captaincy record now reflects a near doubling of Indian losses under his watch and is currently as follows: 22 wins, 9 losses, and 9 draws. Kohli should not be dismissive of the fact that the series was an eye-opener for Indian cricket as the batsman let their team down as opposed to their bowling unit which featured great spells from the following trio: Bumrah, Sharma, and Shami. If Kohli seeks to chase Sachin Tendulkar, individually, and M.S. Dhoni at the captaincy level, he must lead from the front across all formats of the game. Kohli’s notable omission from India’s Asia Cup squad further demonstrates a lack of his commitment to chase opportunities to bolster the silverware collection for the BCCI.
The recently concluded test series between England and India has resulted in a 4-1 victory in favor of the former. Alastair Cook has retired as England’s greatest batsman and James Anderson has become the most successful fast bowler in test history. Virat Kohli aspires to be arguably the greatest batsman of all time whilst navigating Indian cricket. He can surely forget about attempting to top Bradman’s batting average as that just seems to be permanently untouchable for anyone who steps up to bat for their nation, respectively. However, Kohli might achieve topping his compatriot, Sachin Tendulkar, despite it being a mountainous task in itself as the “Little Master” continues to sit at the peak of world cricket from a runs standpoint in both the ODI format of the game as well as in test cricket. Kohli’s chasing of Sachin’s shadow will be more challenging if he also seeks to be the greatest to ever captain India through seeking to surpass Dhoni’s contributions.
Although India continues to retain the World #1 rankings in test cricket in spite of a series loss to England, it will not be long before it slips from first place. Both tweaks and adjustments will most likely be needed in future in order to rethink Indian strategy in the longer format of the game. Perhaps Rohit Sharma should be prepped to pick up Indian opening duties in test cricket as opposed to being groomed as a captain for India in the limited format of the game. With Kohli being rested, Sharma is leading India in the United Arab Emirates, as the Asia Cup is underway. Throughout the history of the Asia Cup, India and Sri Lanka have each won five times, respectively. Pakistan has won the tournament only twice. With Sri Lanka crashing out of the latest Asia Cup through its losses to Bangladesh and Afghanistan, anything can happen. If India’s batting woes from its test squad goes onto influence its ODI team, the tournament will be wide open for the underdogs to take full advantage, especially with Kohli sitting out.
One could have never imagined an Indian side, led by Dhoni full time and across all formats, where he’d even consider opting to sit out on a major tournament. It would have been nice to see Kohli continue captaincy duties in the Arabian Peninsula whilst donning an ODI kit. Even if the Indian side won’t miss Kohli’s leadership, they will surely have to find a way to fill his void from a standpoint of batting contributions and his mere run machine presence at the crease. He may be “King Kohli” to some, as he has just become the second fastest Indian to 6000 test runs, but he surely is not India’s “King Kaptaan” just yet.
The author is a postgrad at Oxford University where he studies Modern South Asia with an emphasis on politics and international relations.