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India cricket

May 2, 2013

Let Virat Kohli be

Parth Pandya, India

An unhappy Virat Kohli, Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers, IPL, Kolkata, April 28, 2012
Virat Kohli can be a worthy successor to Rahul Dravid, even while retaining his aggressive persona © AFP
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Players/Officials: Virat Kohli
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Teams: India

It's been a little over a year since Rahul Dravid exited international cricket. Dravid mastered the art of batting like few others in the game did, and his impeccable technique needs no further documentation. But Dravid's legacy doesn't end there. Way beyond those cricketing meadows does the legend of Dravid reach and it transcends the concept of greatness in sports in its commonly known form. Years from now, people will talk more of the demeanour he maintained despite tasting rare success.

This brings us to the question of Virat Kohli and his recent shenanigans as the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain. It began with a rather avoidable scuffle with his Delhi and India team-mate Gautam Gambhir, and took an inopportune turn following events at the Wankhede Stadium.

Kohli is one of the brightest prospects going around in world cricket. Going by the finesse and technical perfection of his batting, it is hard to think of a worthier Indian successor to the legacy of Dravid - apart from Cheteshwar Pujara of course. But batting prowess alone may not prove enough for Kohli to take over as Dravid's successor; it will also need an image overhaul, that currently seems as unlikely as Xavier Doherty spinning a ball.

That said, does India really need a batsman of Kohli's calibre to emulate Dravid in the way he carries himself? Can't we for once keep the context restricted to cricketing matters alone? Yes, Dravid personified everything that a role model should be, but there's a reason why that breed is getting rarer by the day. That Virat Kohli probably doesn't belong in the same league is just fine - much less an issue of national concern. As long as he bats consistently, there isn't a reason for idealists to reprimand him to this extent.

The big question is whether Kohli is suited to lead India in the future, given the kind of temperamental troubles he's had. For quite some time now, he has been projected as the successor to MS Dhoni, and quite rightly. Of the current generation of players, he was the first to cement his position in the side, and is expected to be at the peak of his game in the next five years. But these concerns that are voiced regarding the handover of captaincy to someone not so lovable are unfounded, unwarranted and extremely harsh.

Dhoni is in no mood to relinquish the leadership role any time soon. He may very well continue to lead India for another couple of years, and there's every chance Kohli may have learnt more about his cricket, about himself and about his responsibilities by then and that will reflect in his conduct. And even if Kohli doesn't change, how exactly does that do any harm from a cricketing perspective?

For starters, Kohli is not one of those new kids who are unable to handle this sudden rise to fame. He's done the hard yards, and emerged through the first-class grind. Little do people know about his decision to bat for Delhi in a Ranji game on the day of his father's death - certainly not the sign of an athlete who lacks in commitment or character.

One of the many things Sourav Ganguly taught the Indian team was to be aggressive when it mattered. His brand of expressive, aggressive and in-your-face demeanour only enhanced his leadership skills. Kohli could well be a leader in the Ganguly mould. Without trivialising Kohli's lack of discipline, it's important that people just let him breathe easy. Little do we know about the person he is, and it is unfair on our part to judge him for his spur-of-the-moment outbursts.

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Posted by Dummy4 on (May 15, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

i jst dont get it considering him a successor of dravid.. i thought pujara was the man to look for that job or wasnt he?

Posted by Aravind on (May 10, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

I have seen people who are great in constructing themselves but couldnt construct a team. I dont go by RCB's sucess under Kohli's captaincy as in my books, there is none. Those 3 other foreign blokes + his own batting skills are doing it for RCB so far. I havent seen any glimpse of captaincy material from him yet. Havent said that he is a 24 year old kid who is just outperforming his age...Yes he is taking ganguly's attitude to another level.

It could be because he is is worthy of it or he is just not matured enough to realise time will test the best of the bests and bring them to thier knees. For now, he is setting high standards and living up to it and he is damn proud of it.

There ll be a day when he is out of form himself but needs to bring the best out of his under performing team..Things that his team mates respect in him today will not be there with him due to lack of form. Good luck to him on that he defintely doesnt need luck today.

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 10, 2013, 10:36 GMT)

Players like Rahul Dravid born just once. kohli is a good batsman but need more time for any important role. he has't seen failure yet.

Posted by Vinod on (May 6, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

People, Virat Kohli is aggressive for sure, but he is abusive! He is a talented batsman and a reasonably fine captain, but at the same time emotionally weak. He can improve on that aspect or else he will soon become prey for his own state of mind.

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 5, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

being aggressive is always good for a captain.aggression should b shown to his own team mates and to their rivals.there stands rahul one could succeed him.but if dravid had been aggressive with his team mates as ganguly was,he would have been a brighter generation need to learn more from their veterans.

Posted by Deep on (May 4, 2013, 15:48 GMT)

All you guys talking about Ponting, he was a great captain. His aggression was justified. He had won so many matches and the effort he put into building a strong team, it is something that no captain has ever done. I don't know about Kohli. He is very aggressive and if there is anybody who can take over the captaincy after Dhoni, that is Virat Kohli.

Posted by vr on (May 4, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

The Mumbai incident has fortunately brought into focus the issue of maturity levels required for a captain. A real captain, I think, is one who swallows the tensions himself like lord Shiva and not the one who multiplies it and throw it on others.Those who were batting for replacement of Dhoni by this ill-tempered guy must have realised by now how valuable Dhoni's presence as a captain is for India.This guy blames the crowd for not knowing the rule books and even went to the extent of saying that even Rayudu did not know how to get back to the crease. What an audaucity.Where was this guy when Rayudu was single handedly destroying opposition's bowling attack at international level? very naive about even Indian cricket.Once again thanks to the Mumbai incident.

Posted by Naveen on (May 4, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

Pls do not use Ganguly to highlight kohli's uncontrolled agression. I sure do love the spunk the guy has, refreshing to see and the way he sees through it.

Gangulys agression is cold calculated agression and he never abused anybody for having lost their wicket. Ganguly's agression was born out of National Pride....which many indians dont understand and scoffed with english cricketers for having removed his shirt. He was only giving it back for what flintoff did in CCI bombay and fittingly too. ITs holy ground for indian cricket.

Anyways i do beleive time should bring kohli to be cold in expressing himself...and one hopes he doesnt go pontings way.

Posted by Dheeban on (May 4, 2013, 8:50 GMT)

I agree! Well-written! Totally capturing the essence of Virat Kohli personality.

Posted by a on (May 4, 2013, 3:03 GMT)

@chitranna i hope that as a coach, you're not encouraging your wards to be picking up fights and get abusive as ways to be 'aggressive'. indian cricket has quite a few examples of truly aggressive and match-winning players such as Kumble, Dravid, and of course Dhoni. When Dhoni walks out to bat and strikes at 170, he is aggression personified. But he doesn't mis-behave. When Dhoni captained India in the2007 T20 WC he was about 24 years old - the same as Kohli is today. But the difference between the two is vast. Don't keep treating Kohli as a kid and say he'll mature. He should've by now. Don't be surprised if Ashwin or Pujara leap-frog Kohli in the team leadership stakes!

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