Virat Kohli proves that he is quick to learn from his mistakes

Virat Kohli… came into his own with both bat and thinking cap © AFP

By Sumit Chakraberty

It was a battle between two new captains: Virat Kohli and Dwayne Bravo. Everything had gone right for the West Indies in the tri-series so far, and it all had gone wrong for India after their ICC Champions Trophy 2013 triumph.

The Windies had won both their games and were as good as being in the final already. India had contrived to lose to the hosts from a winning position, then got thumped by a margin of 161 runs to hand Sri Lanka a bonus point.

A change of venue — from Kingston, Jamaica to Port of Spain, Trinidad — brought a reversal of fortunes. It was India’s turn to win with a bonus point, and make the competition wide open again. If the Windies lose their next game too to Sri Lanka, who also have a bonus point like India, and India then beat Lanka, it will be an India-Sri Lanka final. And if the West Indies win on Sunday, the last match between India and Sri Lanka will be a knockout. Nice.

Port of Spain has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Indians because the wickets there are slower and helpful to spinners. But that wasn’t how India came good this time. They just played great cricket and were perhaps fortunate to lose the toss.

We can’t be sure what Kohli would have done had he won the toss, but Dwayne Bravo had no hesitation in putting the Indians in on a wicket with a thick coat of grass, presumably prepared to give the West Indies home advantage. This backfired when the Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on a century partnership, giving the team the sort of start they consistently got in the Champions Trophy on English wickets. The stage was then set for Kohli to play a captain’s knock, hammering a century in 80 odd balls, after taking his time to get set at the wicket.

The West Indies didn’t help their cause by overdoing the short stuff, which this new Indian side is quite adept at pulling and slicing for runs. Their captain was guilty of this himself, and compounded matters by coming back to bowl at the death when Darren Sammy, who had bowled economically might have been a better option. From 221 for six, India ended up with 311 for seven.

Then the skies became overcast and it started drizzling when it was the West Indies’ turn to bat. This was perfect for Bhuvneshwar Kumar who gobbled up the dangerous Chris Gayle and anchorman Darren Bravo with balls that kicked and seamed away. A rain break only made things worse for the Windies as the Indian seamers had a field day.

Unlike Dwayne Bravo, who came a cropper after stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard had put it across the Indians in the previous game, Kohli came into his own with both bat and thinking cap. Dropping Bhuvneshwar and dropping himself one slot lower in the batting order were mistakes that Kohli corrected after a chastising loss to Sri Lanka. If you can learn from your mistakes, and have the humility to rectify them quickly, you are going to succeed as a captain. Ask Dhoni.

(Former Sunday Editor and cricket columnist of DNA, Sumit Chakraberty has been a journalist for over 30 years, with earlier stints at Indian Express, The Times of India, BiTV and UTV. He is now an independent writer and blogs on cricket at http://cricketkeeper.blogspot.in . You can also follow him on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/sumit.chakraberty and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cricket_keeper)