Zimbabwe v India, 1st ODI, Harare July 23, 2013

Kohli praises young mates for successful transition

32

For most cricket teams, losing a generation of legends in a short space of time would be disastrous. Australia, seemingly stuck in an infinite rebuilding loop, are still reeling from the departure of their greats. Not so India. In barely more than two years, India's World Cup-winning side has been chopped, shopped and rendered barely recognizable, but their new school is ready and waiting to take up the mantle.

"If you have such big players going out of the team suddenly, you do feel a little weird initially but it's all about how you pick it up and the guys have done a brilliant job in that," said Virat Kohli on the eve of his first full series as India's (albeit temporary) captain. "A transition is never easy, and the guys have taken up the responsibility.

"You see Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan stepping into the shoes of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. It's not an easy task but they've batted beautifully for us the last two months, and that's been one of the main reasons for our success."

Suresh Raina captained the last India side to visit Zimbabwe, in 2010, and while he remains a fixture in the one-day side his potential as a future leader appears to have waned. A similar fate is unlikely to befall Kohli, who set off on the path that has brought him here a decade ago as a precocious 14-year-old captain in the Polly Umrigar Trophy. He was put in charge of India sides at Under-15 and U-19 level, and there is a sense of destiny being fulfilled in his current apprenticeship to the India captaincy.

He showed in the recent tri-series in the Caribbean, however, that he still has a lot to learn and readily admitted that he found that assignment, in the absence of the injured MS Dhoni, rather tough. "It was a good experience for me in the West Indies, although I was stepping in between games so it wasn't that easy because I field in every position when I'm playing under MS and it's very hard to analyze where the fielders are, what angles they're standing at, what bowlers to rotate when because you're focussing on just stopping the ball and giving your 100% in the field."

In Zimbabwe, he'll have a clear five matches against modest opposition to hone his skills and learn how best to balance instinct and strategy in the heat of the moment, as every good captain must. Kohli will be helped by the presence of six of the players who toured in 2010, as he did, and have some experience of mid-winter conditions in Zimbabwe, when the pitches are dry, the sun dips below the horizon early and the toss can become vitally important.

There's also the small matter of Duncan Fletcher and Trevor Penney's presence on the coaching staff. Both men were born in Zimbabwe, and have built reputations as two of the finest coaches going around.

"Guys who have played here before have shared that input, but Duncan has been a great help, not just for this series but overall since he's been coach," Kohli said. "He had really difficult times initially and was criticised a lot, but he's stuck with the team and stayed strong and we've seen the results now. We're really benefiting from all the experience he has - he has the best cricketing brain in the world and just has so much knowledge about the game.

"Him and Trevor Penney are both really excited to be here because they haven't been here for a while, so it's a good feeling to have both of them who've played here, helping us in that department."

India's squad has, potentially, five ODI debutants but Kohli downplayed the importance of experience, given the sheer amount of short-format cricket being played these days. "I don't think experience matters so much in one-day cricket, because we've played so much in the IPL back home that we know how to play in different situations. I think that's helped in a big way as far as limited-overs cricket is concerned.

"All the players in the team are quite young right now, and our careers are building up together. I think it's really exciting for Indian cricket, especially in the one-day format, that 15 players can sort of grow up together in international cricket. It's really important to have a strong bond in the team, and we have that right now."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • xylo on July 23, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    Of all the big names that have left the team or XI, all of them have been replaceable irrespective of their statures. At the end of the day, a batsman is a batsman and a bowler is a bowler. What cannot be simply swapped is the thought process that Dhoni brings to the table. The departure of Ganguly highlighted this issue earlier, and now that Dhoni has taken the team to even greater heights, his shoes have gotten bigger and bigger to be filled when he makes the call.

  • IndianEagle on July 24, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    dhoni is a good limited over captain and batsmen. But in test, he is neither a good batsmen nor good caption. He is way behind than others in tests.

  • sweetspot on July 24, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    @Debajyoti Choudhuri - Absolutely right. It would take many years and a great number of factors to come together to bring together an opening combination like Sachin-Ganguly. They were impossible to stop and could just step on it, without any savagery required. Beautiful to watch too. If I were a bowler, that's the one combination I would wish I did not have to bowl against right at the top of an already strong line up.

  • concerned_cricketer on July 24, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, Agree with you on Duncan Fletcher's value and to a large extent on the less than fair treatment given to DF by the indian supporters. We have to also keep in mind that not all of this group that you call 'Indian supporters' have played a lot of cricket and therefore instinctively know the source when they see changes such as the improvement in fielding, selecting and stciking with players that have long term potential even if not the celebrity type etc. Here is where the media plays a huge part and make the public aware of what are the strengths and methods of a certain coach. Gary Kirsten got good assistance from the media in this matter even though he too never tried playing the media like some earlier coaches did. I think it is time for the Indian media to lend some support to DF and remind the public to think about DF's role init, even if not overtly evident.

  • srikanths on July 24, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    No doubts about Dhoni's success in One dayers . He has been extraordinary but let us also remember that he had the advantage of World Cup being played in conditions suitable to Indian players. Ganguly's team made it to the Finals in SA which are quite difficult

    Dhoni did win 20-20 in SA. 20-20 and ODI he has had outstanding success but Tests is a matter altogether different, Saurav Ganguly may have won fewer matches but he had great suucess against tougher opposition in OZ as well as England. Fair point to be argued is that he had a certain Dravid and Tendulkar at the peak of their powers. Dhoni has had to do with a Tendulkar in decline ,atleast the last two years and a Sehwag is decline

  • Nutcutlet on July 24, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Good - and long overdue - Kohli has publicly acknowledged Fletcher's & Penny's input that has seen the recent improvement in the selection, commitment & mind-set of the top Indian players. So many Indian supporters (quite different from cricket-lovers, as swathes of posts hereabouts constantly demonstrate) have been so quick to blame DF for short-term short-comings in the national sides whilst failing to see the jigsaw beginning to come together. It takes time for a coach to explain & then exert his ethos on a team, but when the coach has a vision, a plan, and is not deflected from it (& the plan itself is founded on deep thought) then success becomes more probable. True to form, not a single post here underscores Kohli's endorsement of his coach, but that's fine by DF. He doesn't court publicity, nor will he have any truck with the cult of personality that seems to hypnotise western as well as Indian society. BTW, has anyone ever seen Indian cricketers field so well? Now ask why! 1p!

  • amit_sanghai on July 24, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    This is true only in ODIs. India will still lose 12-0 in Eng, Aus and SA.

  • KishorKumar25 on July 24, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    Pujara, Raydu, Amit Mishra and Rassol MUST PLAY. Raina and Jadeja can be rested for a while... Selectors whould have rested atleast Raina for this series, He is been playing a lot.

  • Ankitsuperking on July 24, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Opinions change so quickly..Not too long ago when india had lost 8-0 in overseas Test match, Fletcher was severely criticized for not having impact on the team l... But now with fortune changing, he is regarded as one of the best coaches....It is rightly said that Nothing Succeeds like success.......

  • himanshu.team on July 24, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    I think too much is being made of Kohli's comment on lack of experience. He cannot say that we have a lot of experience as I am leading this side and we have Fletcher and Penney. Nor can he admit that they are weak because they are in-experienced. He has to be positive and he, and the team, must not feel that having in-experienced players in the side is a weakness. That is exactly what he has done and this is how you motivate your team. I am perfectly with Kolhi and do not take this as a general statement. It is just for this tour and this squad. On this tour, not having enough experience will not hurt team India at all.

  • xylo on July 23, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    Of all the big names that have left the team or XI, all of them have been replaceable irrespective of their statures. At the end of the day, a batsman is a batsman and a bowler is a bowler. What cannot be simply swapped is the thought process that Dhoni brings to the table. The departure of Ganguly highlighted this issue earlier, and now that Dhoni has taken the team to even greater heights, his shoes have gotten bigger and bigger to be filled when he makes the call.

  • IndianEagle on July 24, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    dhoni is a good limited over captain and batsmen. But in test, he is neither a good batsmen nor good caption. He is way behind than others in tests.

  • sweetspot on July 24, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    @Debajyoti Choudhuri - Absolutely right. It would take many years and a great number of factors to come together to bring together an opening combination like Sachin-Ganguly. They were impossible to stop and could just step on it, without any savagery required. Beautiful to watch too. If I were a bowler, that's the one combination I would wish I did not have to bowl against right at the top of an already strong line up.

  • concerned_cricketer on July 24, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, Agree with you on Duncan Fletcher's value and to a large extent on the less than fair treatment given to DF by the indian supporters. We have to also keep in mind that not all of this group that you call 'Indian supporters' have played a lot of cricket and therefore instinctively know the source when they see changes such as the improvement in fielding, selecting and stciking with players that have long term potential even if not the celebrity type etc. Here is where the media plays a huge part and make the public aware of what are the strengths and methods of a certain coach. Gary Kirsten got good assistance from the media in this matter even though he too never tried playing the media like some earlier coaches did. I think it is time for the Indian media to lend some support to DF and remind the public to think about DF's role init, even if not overtly evident.

  • srikanths on July 24, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    No doubts about Dhoni's success in One dayers . He has been extraordinary but let us also remember that he had the advantage of World Cup being played in conditions suitable to Indian players. Ganguly's team made it to the Finals in SA which are quite difficult

    Dhoni did win 20-20 in SA. 20-20 and ODI he has had outstanding success but Tests is a matter altogether different, Saurav Ganguly may have won fewer matches but he had great suucess against tougher opposition in OZ as well as England. Fair point to be argued is that he had a certain Dravid and Tendulkar at the peak of their powers. Dhoni has had to do with a Tendulkar in decline ,atleast the last two years and a Sehwag is decline

  • Nutcutlet on July 24, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Good - and long overdue - Kohli has publicly acknowledged Fletcher's & Penny's input that has seen the recent improvement in the selection, commitment & mind-set of the top Indian players. So many Indian supporters (quite different from cricket-lovers, as swathes of posts hereabouts constantly demonstrate) have been so quick to blame DF for short-term short-comings in the national sides whilst failing to see the jigsaw beginning to come together. It takes time for a coach to explain & then exert his ethos on a team, but when the coach has a vision, a plan, and is not deflected from it (& the plan itself is founded on deep thought) then success becomes more probable. True to form, not a single post here underscores Kohli's endorsement of his coach, but that's fine by DF. He doesn't court publicity, nor will he have any truck with the cult of personality that seems to hypnotise western as well as Indian society. BTW, has anyone ever seen Indian cricketers field so well? Now ask why! 1p!

  • amit_sanghai on July 24, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    This is true only in ODIs. India will still lose 12-0 in Eng, Aus and SA.

  • KishorKumar25 on July 24, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    Pujara, Raydu, Amit Mishra and Rassol MUST PLAY. Raina and Jadeja can be rested for a while... Selectors whould have rested atleast Raina for this series, He is been playing a lot.

  • Ankitsuperking on July 24, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Opinions change so quickly..Not too long ago when india had lost 8-0 in overseas Test match, Fletcher was severely criticized for not having impact on the team l... But now with fortune changing, he is regarded as one of the best coaches....It is rightly said that Nothing Succeeds like success.......

  • himanshu.team on July 24, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    I think too much is being made of Kohli's comment on lack of experience. He cannot say that we have a lot of experience as I am leading this side and we have Fletcher and Penney. Nor can he admit that they are weak because they are in-experienced. He has to be positive and he, and the team, must not feel that having in-experienced players in the side is a weakness. That is exactly what he has done and this is how you motivate your team. I am perfectly with Kolhi and do not take this as a general statement. It is just for this tour and this squad. On this tour, not having enough experience will not hurt team India at all.

  • CrICkeeet on July 24, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    Best of luck 4 d both teams bt i guess Zim can giv a very tight fight in 2-3 games....

  • on July 24, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Fools are people who criticize the opening duo of Ganguly and Tendulkar. They either have not witnessed them play together or deliberately doesn't want to gulp the fact they are and will continue to be the best till the records are broken. They have featured in many an Indian win.

  • raj3006 on July 24, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    For Aus previous players used to win heavily but for India they were not no.1 ranked team even after winning the world cup nd they have lost all the matches in Eng and Australia . ... So we can say its all about leadership till Pointing was captain they won but when he left they lost but for India Dhoni is still available which is difference

  • amygdala on July 24, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1... How short the memory of people and how thankless the job these guys do. I have grown up in times before the late 90's and noughties' revival of Indian cricket, when winning was a struggle against any team. We didnt win because of the lack of bowlers against big teams not because of lack of batting effort esp from the likes of Tendulkar. His average against Australia is among the best and that was peak of Aussie cricket when in all the wide world only Lara and SRT were able to withstand their onslaught. Cricket is a team game, much like a machine, which wouldnt give the desired output unless all the parts are running in sync. Your amazingly absurd observation about SRT's centuries not translating into wins is not because he scored centuries in meaningless matches but because in those so called meaningful matches the other parts of the 'machine' were not functional at all.

  • suriaero on July 24, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1, I just want to know from you, how long India able to finish the game after coming so close to victory. Even here when openers fails the middle order crumbles under pressure eg recent series in WI. Sourav and sachin have given great starts in so many matches which the middle order failed to convert. From 150-2 to 230 all out we have seen many times and so often we get frustrated. Of late we are crossing 300 plus scores pretty regularly its not just because the openers have carried the bat through out and won the game. Its the middle order which held the nerve helping to cross the line or for that matter wining the game for us. Our How many games we have played against Zim and Bang in the recent past? Sachin has carried India into semis of 96 world cup. What happened in semis - We lost badly due to middle order collapse he didnt fail though. Memory is too short, We have to give them credit. apart from CT matches Shikaar hasn't done big in WI. Time will give u all the answers

  • on July 24, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    Too Early to say that we have translated after winning two series only.

  • on July 24, 2013, 2:35 GMT

    So according to Mr. Subbass, chess, badminton, lawn tennis, hockey etc.do not count as sports on the world stage

  • class9ryan on July 24, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    The IPL has certainly helped, we had 3-4 matches each of green tops in Mohali, & Jaipur,1 match at Dharamshala, rank turners in Hyderabad, Kolkata. Dead pitches in Delhi,Ranchi. Batting roads in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai. Weve also had a massive ground in Raipur. This year the pitches were quite unique unlike the previous editions. It does help the Indians a bit. Also the Ranji pitches in Mohali, Rajkot, Baroda,etc have Zimbabwe like conditions. Virat has the point here. Only thing is can the spinners find something extravagant here. Zimbabwe pitches of late can be friendly to Indian spinners.

    Anyways the 1st match is the best chance for Zimbabwe to send a statement to India's dressing room.

  • on July 24, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1------u just take the examples of opening pair of wt20and wc2011.... Sehwag is common whom he was played with were Sachin and gambhir. Don't blame them there might come a down for a person. Even dhawan and Rohit may fall after some time..That day you'll not praise Dhawan and Rohit, but sachin and sehwag. Having seen the matches of RCB and the last West Indian tour, it seems Kohli is betta than raina because he had the captaining experience; ''14-year-old captain in the Polly Umrigar Trophy. Under-15 and U-19 level, and there is a sense of destiny being fulfilled in his current apprenticeship to the India captaincy.'' Its a good sign for India to warm up a new captain so that in future Dhoni's responsibilties can be reduced. That is keeping Kohli as T20 captain and may a ODi stand as well. THis series would be lesson to for the young 'champs' to learn how to revert the situations accordingly l'king at the WC2015.....It'll be a challenge 4 the zimbabwe team as well ........

  • on July 23, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    Parvaiz Rasool deserves a game today on d back of his recent performances...Hope he performs well..Best of Luck

  • on July 23, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    Team India were ruthless in changing their side which has benifitted them. On the otherhand you have my team (Pakistan), sticking with the old tried and tested and persisting with them. Then again you lot have batting riches and we are thin in that department!

  • on July 23, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    tommorows team dhawan rohit pujara kohli karthik raina jadeja mishra vinay kumar unadkat mohit sharma

  • Al_Bundy1 on July 23, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    This transition was long overdue. It should have started immediately after 2 back to back white washes in 2011-2012. Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar should have been kicked out immediately for non-performance. People say Ganguly and Tendulkar was our most successful opening pair in ODI. Successful in what?? They could not win any major tournament for India. Sorry, wins against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh don't count. I would rather have a rag tag opening pair of Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, than the so-called great opening pair of Ganduly and Tendulkar. Winning is what counts!! We play to win, not to count how many centuries someone has scored.

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    Should hope so Virat, you do have 1.4 billion people to choose from and only play one sport on the world stage.

  • bbnn on July 23, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    RDX , where is Sirji the golden boy in Indian team?

  • crkt4evr on July 23, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    pardon me if im wrong but i think pujara is more of laxman than dravid dunno why everyone(especially the media!) wants to make him dravid while he doesn't seem to be so!

  • umangsagar on July 23, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    Good luck young Team India...but Mr. Kohli, due you really believe experience doesnt matter in ODI coz players have played in IPL T20? Thats a sad statement i believe from such a fine young player and future captain.

  • moBlue on July 23, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    i like virat's youthful energy and optimism, but i'm a 44-year old avid IND cricket watcher, and let's not kid ourselves yet... virat is only talking about ODI's, one hopes, but even in ODI's, IND's best recent opening pair were not sehwag and gambhir but the redoubtable ganguly and sachin... i hate to say it for they may be on the right track but dhawan and especially rohit ain't anywhere close to that yet!

    i hope they'll get there soon enough...

    ...and as far as test cricket goes, let's not kid ourselves! in sehwag, dravid, sachin (after the SA tour), ganguly and VVS, we lost a lot!!! ...possibly a batting combo. full of individual matchwinners that will likely prove impossible to replace in the medium term! so far, let's see, we have pujara for dravid, shikhar for sehwag (at least in IND, and i'm hopeful about shikhar in SA), and virat for sachin when the latter retires... 3 out of 5 ain't bad but replacing VVS and ganguly in tests - even while dhoni is at the helm- won't be easy!

  • RDX_ on July 23, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Team for tomorrow match: Shikhar Dhawan Rohit Sharma Pujara Kohli Karthik Raina Rasool Mishra Vinay Kumar Mohit Sharma Unadkat

  • on July 23, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    wonderful . indian cricket in great and peek position

  • on July 23, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    good luck team indis

  • Planetindia on July 23, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Virat has been an Excellent player so far and one day he will be a great captain but he's gonna need a lot of help from MS. Lets hope BCCI let MS play another 3 to 4 years in ONE-DAY and doesn't throw him away just because he is the oldest in the team right now.

  • Planetindia on July 23, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Virat has been an Excellent player so far and one day he will be a great captain but he's gonna need a lot of help from MS. Lets hope BCCI let MS play another 3 to 4 years in ONE-DAY and doesn't throw him away just because he is the oldest in the team right now.

  • on July 23, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    good luck team indis

  • on July 23, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    wonderful . indian cricket in great and peek position

  • RDX_ on July 23, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Team for tomorrow match: Shikhar Dhawan Rohit Sharma Pujara Kohli Karthik Raina Rasool Mishra Vinay Kumar Mohit Sharma Unadkat

  • moBlue on July 23, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    i like virat's youthful energy and optimism, but i'm a 44-year old avid IND cricket watcher, and let's not kid ourselves yet... virat is only talking about ODI's, one hopes, but even in ODI's, IND's best recent opening pair were not sehwag and gambhir but the redoubtable ganguly and sachin... i hate to say it for they may be on the right track but dhawan and especially rohit ain't anywhere close to that yet!

    i hope they'll get there soon enough...

    ...and as far as test cricket goes, let's not kid ourselves! in sehwag, dravid, sachin (after the SA tour), ganguly and VVS, we lost a lot!!! ...possibly a batting combo. full of individual matchwinners that will likely prove impossible to replace in the medium term! so far, let's see, we have pujara for dravid, shikhar for sehwag (at least in IND, and i'm hopeful about shikhar in SA), and virat for sachin when the latter retires... 3 out of 5 ain't bad but replacing VVS and ganguly in tests - even while dhoni is at the helm- won't be easy!

  • umangsagar on July 23, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    Good luck young Team India...but Mr. Kohli, due you really believe experience doesnt matter in ODI coz players have played in IPL T20? Thats a sad statement i believe from such a fine young player and future captain.

  • crkt4evr on July 23, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    pardon me if im wrong but i think pujara is more of laxman than dravid dunno why everyone(especially the media!) wants to make him dravid while he doesn't seem to be so!

  • bbnn on July 23, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    RDX , where is Sirji the golden boy in Indian team?

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    Should hope so Virat, you do have 1.4 billion people to choose from and only play one sport on the world stage.

  • Al_Bundy1 on July 23, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    This transition was long overdue. It should have started immediately after 2 back to back white washes in 2011-2012. Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar should have been kicked out immediately for non-performance. People say Ganguly and Tendulkar was our most successful opening pair in ODI. Successful in what?? They could not win any major tournament for India. Sorry, wins against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh don't count. I would rather have a rag tag opening pair of Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, than the so-called great opening pair of Ganduly and Tendulkar. Winning is what counts!! We play to win, not to count how many centuries someone has scored.