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Kohli’s 9,1,1 calls for his removal as captain

India had been favourites to win the ICC World Cup 2019 trophy on 14 July, but now Indians head home losing to New Zealand by 18 runs in an unlosable match Kohli lost. I know two other top order batsmen, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul also did not play well and scored only 1 run like Kohli but I put the blame fairly and squarely on Kohli. I further believe Kohli should do the right thing by stepping down as India’s captain and give someone else the honour to lead India.

Kohli is known for his aggressive style of play or so it seemed. I always thought and it is commonly understood if one is aggressive, he thinks of himself as:

  1. ‘no less than the subject of his attack; and
  2. one who firmly believes he can do it’.

If these two ingredients are not the constituting factors of one’s aggression, for me then, one does not have aggression in any real sense. His ‘aggression’ premises always on situational convenience. And that aggression usually works well for ‘stand-in’ leaders, captains or arrangers who are not there for the real gigs which always necessitate a test of real nerve for the aggressor and if the person does not have and is put under pressure, he invariably WILL FAIL.

I believe Virat Kohli falls in the category of having aggression premised on situational convenience and thus not a real leader but a ‘stand-in’ one.

The first semi-final on July 9 between India and New Zealand was the first game of the knockout stage of the tournament and a real test of the two leaders – Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson. Despite the fact Indian bowlers were not giving away anything, the chief firefighter for New Zealand Kane Williamson scored 67. Unlike Kohli who had had the luxury of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan performing and sharing the load, Kane on the other hand has had to be the chief ‘firefighter’ for the New Zealanders.

Before the semi final game against India, in eight innings, not once has he had the luxury of watching the first 10 overs from the safety of the dressing room. Three times, he has been called into action in the very first over. Twice, he has been there right at the end.

In this first semi final here, he made his entrance in the fourth over and went on to score a fighting 67. It has been a quite extraordinary burden to shoulder, yet what’s been even more remarkable is the way in which he has met the challenge.

I believe that is a real leader’s performance. Kane Williamson at that stage did not have any comfort of Ross Taylor’s knock of 74. He was fighting the fight holding his nerve, with no outside help, except the knowledge that there were wickets still in hand.

But so did Kohli.

And the difference of result for the team and the country can be pinned down to Kohli’s total inept handling of the very similar situation he was in, as was Kane. To me, Kohli, whose was the first time at the ICC World Cup as captain, did not possess the mental strength to carry out the job. It is very easy to sugar coat your shortcomings and dress them as something else, as he has done after the game.

When Kapil Dev played the innings of 175 NOT OUT in 1983, he was in much worse situation that Kohli. Kohli had only lost Rohit Sharma, Kapil Dev had lost his entire batting order, but he played a captain’s knock as it should be, if you are the real deserving captin.

For me, MS Dhoni still is more capable to lead than Kohli. In the three World Cups Kohli has batted in the knockout games his score has been a mighty 9 (2011), mighty 1 (2015) and another mighty 1 (2019). ICC World Cup appearances by both Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in 2011, 2015 & 2019 show the difference in the strengths of nerve centres of both the players:

Semi final knockout game against Pakistan – ICC World Cup 2011

MS Dhoni (Captain) 25 of 42 balls with strike rate of 59.52.

Virat Kohli 9 of 21 balls with the strike rate of 42.86.

India won by 29 runs.

Semi final knockout game against Australia – ICC World Cup 2015

V Kohli 1 of 13 balls strike rate 7.69.
MS Dhoni (Captain) 65 of 65 balls strike rate of 100.

India lost by 95 runs.

Semi final knockout game against New Zealand – ICC World Cup 2019

Virat Kohli 1 of 6 balls with strike rate of 16.66.
Dhoni 50 of 72 balls with strike rate of 69.44.

India lost by 18 runs.

MS Dhoni still exhibits all signs of a fight and leadership, though he is inching toward his retirement each day. But he is not a quitter and he has shown that on numerous occasions. And Kohli who unfortunately seems to be comfortably housed in his position as captain and leader, the questions keep cropping up about the timing of Dhoni calling it a day.

Further, Kohli’s gesture of appealing to the crowd to not boo Steve Smith was much appreciated and it is a pity Steve Smith out-performed Kohli on the pitch. On the following day, Steve Smith, former Australian captain had to arrive at the crease, pretty much in an identical situation to that of Virat Kohli and look how he so valiantly fought his innings. That is a leader’s knock, not what Virat kohli did. He simply ‘chickened out’ of the situation.

And so he should out of captaincy. It will improve his game as he would not have to engage in so many other things than his game.

Is he really ready to take a pay cut? That is a million dollar question now which needs answers.

-DM

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