Stiffer challenges await Virat Kohli in coming months: Ian Chappell
Virat Kohli would look to square the ledger on Australian tour later this year (Getty Images)

Underlining the importance of the current series against England and the five-match Test series that await India in Australia later this year in November, Ian Chappell believes that the next few months will bring Virat Kohli his toughest challenges as captain.

Kohli has excelled as a captain in home conditions registering series wins over South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia since taking over in 2015, but whether he has the teeth to succeed overseas will determine Kohli’s credentials as a leader.

Writing for ESPNcricinfo, Chappell reckoned that Kohli’s foremost target will to turn things around for India, who are trailing 0-2 following defeats at Edgbaston and Lord’s. According to the former Australian captain, beating Australia on their soil is remains a tough task and provided India lose to England and follow it with a series defeat against Australia, it would be considered a “bookable offence.”

“Prior to reaching the UK, India had a glorious opportunity to defeat two heavyweights in England and Australia in consecutive away Test series. Had they done so, it would have been a laudable achievement,” Chappell said. “Now Kohli’s team are in danger of not only wilting tamely against England but also of providing a depleted Australian team with a confidence boost, to the point where they will feel their chances of victory at home have greatly improved. If India were to lose both series, it would be a bookable offence.”

The next few months will be a defining period in Kohli’s captaincy career. He has already shown on many occasions that he’s a master batsman; if he can resurrect this Indian team and find a way to thwart Anderson and his English cohorts, then it will go down as an example of masterful leadership.”

Chappell credited Kohli for the fine form he has displayed in the series. He scored a century and a fifty in the first Test at Edgbaston, and narrowly missed out on a hundred in the first innings at Trent Bridge. At Lord’s he was plagued with a back injury that prevented him from being his best. But more importantly, the way Kohli has tackled James Anderson, his tormenter from the tour four years ago, is what has impressed Chappell the most.

“Fans are currently enjoying another tilt of the highest quality in the battle between Jimmy Anderson and Virat Kohli. In 2014, Kohli experienced a run drought in England and Anderson was the undoubted victor in those tussles,” Chappell said.

“So for Kohli to be confronted by a champion bowler in favourable conditions and score 200 runs for the match at Edgbaston, without conceding his wicket to Anderson, was a mighty achievement. Although Kohli was hampered by injury at Lord’s, he still resisted Anderson’s challenge.”

Chappell was quick to pounce of India’s weakness – their batting, saying if India are to turn things around in the series, or even succeed in Australia, Kohli alone can’t be doing the job, and that addressing this issue should be one of his foremost agendas.

“Anderson will be just one of many challenges that Kohli faces in the next few weeks. There’s also the not-so-minor matter of finding the right words to inspire his fellow batsmen so that they make a far greater contribution for the rest of the series,” Chappell said.