Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

Virat Kohli must take over as the next captain, but the time to replace MS Dhoni has not yet come

Virat Kohli must take over as the next captain, but the time to take over from MS Dhoni has not yet come

Calls for Virat Kohli (right) to succeed MS Dhoni as Test captain have been increasingly growing © PTI

Virat Kohli has widely been touted to be the next captain of India. While agreeing, Arunabha Sengupta says that pushing him into the hot seat now can have dangerous repercussions.


 
Virat Kohli has played 14 Tests, averages 38 and is yet to cross 1000 in the longest format of the game.
 
He does seem to have had a much longer and more fruitful stint than that — especially when we review his claims to the top job. Yes, 90 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) with a phenomenal average of 51 do occupy a major space in our perceptions, clouding the reason and tilting the balance somewhat dangerously as far as his Test credentials are concerned.
 
Kohli’s future unquestionably holds huge promise. He is phenomenally talented, can destroy attacks and when he is in full flow, can hit boundaries at will — all of which has been vividly seen in ODIs.
 
In Test cricket, however, he emerges as a major force mainly due to the depletion and dimming of the batting stars in the line-up. He is yet to get anywhere close to the batting brilliance in Test cricket that is generally associated with an Indian middle-order batsman since the last two decades.
 
He has everything going for him in that direction — talent, youth and, when not mouthing profanities after a hundred, growing maturity. But, in plain terms, he has not made his grade as a Test batsman yet. He has shown snatches of brilliance, nothing more. He has not yet obtained the consistency that is the hallmark of a good Test batsman.
 
It is natural for him to emerge as a successor-in-waiting after MS Dhoni decides to shed his burden, or his mantle is twisted out of his hand. When there is a litany of losses, it is very normal for the wisdom of the crowds to point towards him.

We can point towards Graeme Smith’s extraordinary success as a leader from the moment he stepped out of his cricketing cradle. But, leading South Africa and becoming the captain of India are diametrically different — they do not even merit comparison.
 
Kapil Dev, a man who led India when he was 23, points out the dangers crisply. “I didn’t know how to manage the seniors when I became leader at the age of 23. I didn’t know what to tell the seniors then. By the time I started learning the tricks of the trade, I was removed from captaincy. I can assure you that it is not easy to captain a side with seniors.”
 
Besides, by the time he became the captain at a very young age, Kapil Dev was already one of the very best all-rounders in the world, with almost 2000 runs and 200 wickets. Kohli has none of those credentials.
 
Kapil goes on to add, “That South African team didn’t have superstars like the current Indian team has and there is no point comparing.” What he leaves out is that in South Africa, television channels do not criticise every move of a captain. Ex-cricketers do not appear on shows as ridiculous as “Match ka Mujrim”. Millions of fans don’t follow the game with the steadfast belief that victory in cricket is their birth-right.
 
With the Indian team in rebuilding phase, a young and extremely promising batsman loaded with this enormous responsibility and thrown into a cauldron of boiling demands can soon end up with his cricketing future going up in flames. One would not want the future of Indian batting retiring hurt that early.

The Pataudi effect
 
People cite the example of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. True, he was barely 21 when he led the country for the first time — and is said to be one of the most astute captains India ever had.
 
This comparison in this case is even more stretched. Pataudi was a Nawab, born into royalty, in a country that still revelled in genuflection to rulers. To get allegiance — of both team and followers of the game — had much to do with his title, his palace in Bhopal and his larger than life image.
 
Of his first 26 Tests Pataudi lost 13 and won two — a record much worse that what Dhoni has managed in the last year and a half. If a commoner without his rank had been at the helm during that period, he would have been crucified, and torn to shreds in public.
 
He managed to continue and bring changes to Indian cricket, ending with nine wins and 19 losses. Kohli’s start can be as disastrous as Pataudi’s, given that the team is in a transitional stage. He does not have a regal title to fall back on when the results are negative, to blind the furious fans with flashes of his royal sceptre. The voices that now state that they don’t mind losing a few games for a better future will hardly be that patient when that eventuality does arrive.
 
Pataudi was a brilliant captain, hailed in spite of consecutive losses. Indian cricket is not known for such patient acceptance. The next captain who approached Pataudi’s tactical brilliance on the field never had a moment’s piece after that loss against Bangladesh crashed India out of the 2007 World Cup. Rahul Dravid decided that the pressures of the job were not worth it.
 
If one of the best Indian batsmen of all time surrenders to the pressures that come with the job, is it fair to push Kohli into the role even as he is finding his feet in the longest format of the game?
 
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 23, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Delhi Daredevils won by 4 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 7 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kings XI Punjab won by 6 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014  at Sharjah

Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 8 wkts

Videos

Rajasthan Royals' unusual strategy in IPL 2014

Videos

Moises Henriques looking forward to playing with SRH

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) Live Cricket Score IPL 2014: Samson departs for 52

Praveen Kumar believes making comeback for India is not difficult

Saqlain Mushtaq: Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine are skilful cricketers

Miran Bakhsh: The second-oldest Test debutant

Indian cricketers and copycat marketing

BCCI Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils England India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders MS Dhoni Mumbai Indians Rajasthan Royals Royal Challengers Bangalore Virat Kohli

IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal: Lalit Modi demands CBI enquiry, opposes BCCI’s nomination of new panel

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), IPL 2014: Sanju Samson departs for 52

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), IPL 2014: Shane Watson dismissed for 50

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), IPL 2014: Sanju Samson, Shane Watson hammer Punjab bowlers

Sanju Samson’s blitz propels Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in IPL 2014

Batsmen who have smashed last ball for six to win a game in the annals of One-Day Internationals

IPL 2014: Glenn Maxwell, David Miller form the core of Kings XI Punjab’s batting line-up

Praveen Kumar believes making comeback for India is not difficult

Saqlain Mushtaq: Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine are skilful cricketers

Miran Bakhsh: The second-oldest Test debutant

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

2 Posts | 0 Fans

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Daredevils IPL 2014 Match no 6 Video Highlights

Nike refutes FuelBand shutdown reports, says new color options incoming

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), IPL 2014: Shane Watson dismissed for 50

HTC Desire 210 sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone in the works

5 reasons you’re not seeing results in the gym

Alia Bhatt: My parents aren’t members of my fan club!

Rajasthan Royals (RR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), IPL 2014: Sanju Samson, Shane Watson hammer Punjab bowlers

Know what it takes to save your skin during flights

Soundarya Rajinikanth: I fulfilled my animation dream with Kochadaiiyaan

Also on cricketcountry.com