Moving up in the world
In winning an away Test series against Sri Lanka, the Virat Kohli-led Team India has rendered more positives than merely ending a 22-year jinx in the island-nation.
In winning an away Test series against Sri Lanka, the Virat Kohli-led Team India has rendered more positives than merely ending a 22-year jinx in the island-nation. The biggest cheer ought to go for the fact that this marks only the first time in Indian history that it has won an away series after having lost the series opener.
Although, India was a more balanced outfit, the home team failed to consolidate its 1-0 advantage. The difference lay in the approach. Credit should go to Kohli for the gut-spilling aggression that he brings to the ground, a trait that seems to have rubbed on to his young brigade.
It will not be out of context if one contends that Kohli’s brand of leadership, though as profoundly unorthodox as his predecessor’s, is far more impactful in terms of bringing together a new vibrancy into the very squad, which is confidence personified. For a team that appeared starved of sound openers till the other day, Kohli has hit a jackpot of sorts. He will now be spoilt for choice given that all the four who opened the innings were among runs.
Of course, the selectors will have a headache on hand when they have to shut the doors on at least one of them. The assemblage of the bench strength, including in the pace department, augurs well for future engagements, a la West Indies in the 1970s and 80s when the likes of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose had to be out of reckoning or India’s spin department around the same time when S Venkatraghavan had to make way for Erapalli Prasanna.
The ‘we can win’ psychological attitude has been brought about by Kohli, whose flamboyance combines temperament and aggression. Perhaps, he is influenced, howsoever indirectly by the manner an equally brash and more outspoken Ian Chappell built a young Australian bunch into a world conquering squad that was second only to Don Bradman’s Invincibles or the subsequent Clive Lloyd’s terrifying world beaters.
Kohli, like Tiger Pataudi and Sourav Ganguly earlier, has done well with his experimental approach whether it was in reshuffling the batting order or trusting R Ashwin’s abilities with the second new ball. Once the celebrations are done and over with, the team should realise that a bigger challenge waits in the form of a belligerent South Africa, whose pride has been wounded by lowly teams.
Kohli and the team management would do well in restraining themselves from showering praises on Ishant Sharma, who for all his match-winning exploits has been both injury-prone and erratic in his entire career. Chappell could mould a fiery and fired-up Dennis Lillee as did Mike Brearley with Ian Botham. But Sharma is neither. India should not forget that Galle exposed the chinks in the armour and this is where they have to iron out the drawbacks before expecting an encore against the Proteas.