In order to be ruthless Down Under, India and Virat Kohli must remember that only a handful of their players have the experience of playing Test cricket in Australia © IANS (File Photo)
India and Virat Kohli must remember that only a handful of their players have the experience of playing Test cricket in Australia © IANS (File Photo)

Stand-in India skipper Virat Kohli made an interesting appeal to his team of being ruthless against the struggling Sri Lankans during the recently-concluded five-match One-Day International (ODI) series. While the team lived up to the challenge thrown by demolishing the high-flying Sri Lankans 5-0 in the series, in the longer run, this idea may attract some criticism for India, keeping in mind the challenging tour of Australia followed by the ICC World Cup 2015. Devarchit Varma has more.

They say, an intelligent man chooses his words wisely. And if this man turns out to be a leader in any capacity, the words that come from him are meant to be treated with utmost respect and diligence. Virat Kohli, who led India against Sri Lanka in the recently-concluded series, ticked almost all the boxes right as a leader, but during the process, he ended up throwing a challenge so enormous that it may take India face a test of character, in order to live up to their captain’s expectations.

It wouldn’t be MS Dhoni who will be marching this Indian side in Brisbane on December 4 in the opening game of a four-match Test affair, against an Australian side that has shown all signs of being merciless especially at home. It will be the young Kohli, who boasts tremendous firepower as an individual who will be captaining India. Kohli has reached unprecedented heights in a very short span of time, as he is someone who has got the killer instinct and the perfect ruthless attitude when he has that bat in his hand. But the question is, as the leader of the pack, will Kohli be able to spark the same fire in a squad of 18, in order to carry out the ruthlessness that he seeks?

Kohli’s idea of being ruthless fits India perfectly whenever they play at home, because as the trend goes in international cricket today, every top side is almost unbeatable when it comes to playing at home. At home, Indian batsmen can go on batting for days on trot and their bowlers, especially the spinners, are skilled enough to run through any batting order without wasting much time. But can this style of play be associated with this Indian side when they play overseas? When was the last time India batted skilfully in an overseas Test to force a draw, or to put up a huge total on board? Keeping aside the famous victory at Lord’s during the last England tour, when was the last time an Indian bowling attack even challenged the opposition batsmen in their backyard in the longest format?

India cannot expect Australia to go easy on them. The Australian pacers can really hurt the best in the business of batting with that red ball, something that can totally destroy the confidence. India and Kohli must remember that only a handful of their players have the experience of playing Test cricket in Australia – the majority of the 19-member squad is completely new to those conditions. In fact, many of them have not even played limited-overs cricket Down Under and they lack requisite experience to play in those challenging conditions. In both the bowling and the batting departments, India are terribly inexperienced and naive. How can thus ruthlessness be expected from a bunch of talented yet inexperienced players?

During an event in New Delhi, which had many former World Cup winning captains at the same stage, it was unanimously agreed that India cannot be considered red-hot favourites for the ICC World Cup 2015 because they do not have quality bowling attack. India’s pace attack cannot win matches, and over-reliance on the batsmen can result in things going awry in longer run. While it is a fact that the side that wins the tournament will be the best among the rest in all departments, India can very well gauge where they stand and what lies in store of them. The tour of Australia will be tough, even tougher than the one in 2011-12. Back then, they had the experience of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Zaheer Khan. Today, they are not only severely depleted but inexperienced as well. The only way this Indian side can excel is by playing good, tough cricket, throughout sessions and throughout days.

Ruthlessness is a trait, something that is developed as a habit by every single member of a team with relentless hard work and doggedness. It doesn’t come from one or two players, but even from those who are in the support staff. Moreover, this ruthlessness in seen in all conditions, home and away. The Australian sides of mid 1990s to late 2000s and the legendary West Indies teams from the 1970s to late 1980s were ruthless in true sense.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)