India's results are a tribute to Kohli's captaincy

Ian Chappell3 Minute Read
Kohli's players want to perform for him, and that is a hallmark of a successful captainAFP

So good has Virat Kohli's batting been as he defiantly seeks retribution for a poor 2014 tour of England that it's easy to overlook his enormous influence as captain of this talented Indian team.

Kohli is a good captain and a strong leader. He has embraced the first rule of successful captaincy: if you are given the responsibility, make sure you lead.

He placed his colourful imprint on the Indian team right at the outset, when he stood in for the injured captain MS Dhoni at Adelaide Oval in 2014. His opening gambit as captain ended in gallant defeat, as India narrowly went down, sooled on by Kohli to seek an unlikely victory.

The impressive thing about his captaincy in that match was not so much his inspirational batting but the logic behind the headlong dash for victory. Kohli reasoned that the Indian batsmen would eventually be overwhelmed if they played purely for survival on a pitch receptive to spin and that their best chance of survival was to attack.

Kohli the captain led the charge by producing the best fourth-innings counterattack I've seen. It resulted in his second century in the match, and it would have led to a glorious victory if he hadn't holed out near the boundary to one of Nathan Lyon's least dangerous deliveries.

My first thoughts on Kohli's captaincy were that he would have to curb his, at times, volatile emotions. He is an extremely emotional cricketer, and I felt this could adversely affect his thought process, and in turn, those of his team-mates.

He has remained a highly emotional leader - in the second innings at Trent Bridge, he was so hyped I thought he might leap in front of the keeper from third slip and try to thieve a catch - but this appears to have a positive effect on his team.

The players want to perform for him, which is a crucial aspect of successful leadership. If the players respect the captain and are all pulling in the same direction, it shows up in their determination to overcome setbacks. At Trent Bridge, India charged back into the series with an emphatic victory following two deflating losses.

India have rounded up a decent all-round attack and they have responded well to Kohli's field placings, which are predominantly designed to capture wickets. The arrival of Jasprit Bumrah has added an extra dimension to what was already a good pace attack, and Kohli has managed to extract the best out of Ishant Sharma, whose newly found consistency has played a big part in India's revival.

When you add India's skilful and varied group of spinners to the blossoming pace attack, it gives Kohli a chance to win under all conditions. His overall captaincy record is good - with a near 60% victory rate - and his overseas jaunts have produced respectable results, with a recent near- miss effort in South Africa.

However, India's attack will face a stern challenge in Australia with its firm surfaces and unhelpful ball, but this will be balanced by bowling to a depleted batting line-up.

In the meantime they have some unfinished but important business in England. The Indian bowlers again performed with skill and discipline at the Ageas Bowl. Thanks to their efforts, combined with the concentration of Cheteshwar Pujara - who showed, in emulating his skipper's determination to succeed, why he shouldn't have been omitted from the first Test - India now have a great chance to level the series after losing the first two Tests.

If India do level the series it will afford Kohli the chance to join Sir Donald Bradman in a unique captaincy achievement. Currently, Bradman is the only skipper to lead his team from the depths of a 2-0 deficit to the joy of a 3-2 series victory.

If India do come from behind to win this series it will be a tribute to Kohli's leadership and the way he has moulded this team. It will also be an emphatic reminder of why five-Test series are the best way to decide supremacy between two combative teams.