Zimbabwe v India, 5th ODI, Bulawayo August 3, 2013

Kohli pleased with fringe players' performance


Job done for Virat Kohli. India were always likely to beat Zimbabwe, but any errors or slip-ups could have blotted the apprentice-captain's copybook. With India barely breaking a sweat while cruising to a 5-0 win, Kohli was particularly pleased with the way some untested and fringe players in his squad proved themselves.

"The guys who got a chance for the first time showed a lot of character, especially someone like Mohit Sharma and [Jaydev] Unadkat," Kohli said. "Ajinkya Rahane coming back into the team, scoring some runs. So it was pretty good to see all the guys performing and playing their roles. Amit Mishra sat out for two months on the road regularly and then came out with 18 wickets in this series, so there were a lot of great performances by individuals and some good team efforts as well."

Kohli also won four tosses out of five, but that only served to widen a gap that would probably not have been bridged even if India had had to bat first each morning. Zimbabwe's bad luck with the toss and their worse form with the bat meant that, apart from in the second match, India's batsmen were never really put under pressure in testing conditions. As Kohli explained, though, that wasn't really the point of this trip. India know what Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma offer, but a seaming wicket and helpful conditions allowed a greenhorn set of bowlers to build up valuable confidence. At no point was there any chance that Kohli would have sent his batsmen in first.

"The thing is that we analysed and considered the fact that our bowling line-up is pretty new so we wanted to give them more confidence rather than the batting, because the batting has been doing well for about three months," Kohli said. "There's no point in going out there and trying to prove something to ourselves because all these individuals have performed at international level. It's about giving people the right kind of confidence in games, and the new-ball bowlers got a lot of confidence from bowling in the first innings and that was the plan. The batsmen have all scored runs in this series, so it was all about making sure the bowlers go back as more confident individuals."

Perhaps the only point one might call Kohli out on was his failure to give an opportunity to Parvez Rasool. The Kashmiri offspinning allrounder was the only member of the squad to have sat out the entire series when he could have been brought in as a like-for-like replacement for Ravindra Jadeja.

"It's very hard to leave someone like Jadeja out because he's the kind of bowler who can get you wickets at any point in time," Kohli said. "We didn't want to take any game lightly and I didn't want to change too much in the bowling department. Mishra has been sitting out for a while so we wanted to give him four or five games. Parvez is going to South Africa now for the India A tour and he's going to play a lot of games there and pick up more experience. He could have been given a chance but I just didn't want to take a chance with the bowling line-up, leaving someone like Jadeja out.

"I'm not really bothered about what's being said about people getting chances, because a lot of people who have played these five games have been sitting on the bench for two months or so. Parvez realises we had a set bowling combination and we didn't want to make any changes to that. It was unfortunate he didn't get a game, but it just didn't go according to our plans. Maybe in future when he plays more series he'll get a few games to test his skills out."

India took just about as much as they could out of this whistle-stop tour. Five wins, a truckload of runs and wickets and a good dose of confidence. They move on to far tougher assignments in the months to come, with some of the group heading to South Africa for an A tour before India - with MS Dhoni back at the helm - take on Australia in seven ODIs at home and then travel to South Africa. By then, Zimbabwe will be a distant memory but, perhaps, a happy one.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sunil on August 6, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    I have no intent to insult Zimbabwe, they used to be a much better team but unfortunately they are struggling now. I totally disagree with team management's approach. It's no big deal to have 5-0 result, even a 4-1 with all newcomers getting a chance would have been much better. I wonder no one told the team management the purpose of this trip i.e. try new players. I understand not giving chance to the newcomers in first 3 matches but after 3-0, it did not make sense not to give all the 4 a chance. To be honest after 4-0, it seemed India could easily win with few players less than 11. Sorry to say I cannot support such conservative attitude. 5-0 with all new getting a chance would have better achievement. Sorry Kohli, you missed a great opportunity to prove to be a good leader (a good leader is the one who develops talent rather than win with existing good talents).

  • Sam on August 5, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    Rasool not getting a chance is no surprise to me. But the point here is weather to project kohli as a captain is justified. Not at all he has to show character and guts to make decisions to be at the level of ganguly and dhoni

  • Dummy4 on August 5, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    Kohli is no MSD and he proved it. Rather than showing confidence in the new player and giving him an opportunity, Kohli send the signal that Rasool is so bad that by including him, India risked loosing against a struggling Zim.

  • Punit on August 5, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    No need to make too much of it. Rasool will have his day sooner or later. Stop Kohli baiting, folks. He is the best ODI batsman India has got, as also the best young batsman around the world.

  • PeterJerome on August 5, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    Kohli disappointed a lot a of us by robbing us a glimpse of the talented Rasool. Perhaps that was the only talking point about this series and it was never to be. Kohli.. wheres the entertainment man?

  • Shiv on August 5, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    I am more dissapointed that Pujara did not get to play all five matches, he is the future batting of India and only plays in Tests which is not enough to keep him match fit all the time. He needs to play in ODI's too.

  • Dummy4 on August 5, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    I am really amazed with statement made by Kohli as captain "I just didn't want to take a chance with the bowling line-up".... If u don't want to take chance against Zimbabwe after winning series, against whom will u take chances... and when... If u can't trust ur batting line up against Zimbabwe, it's really shameful for team on top of ranking charts.... Atleast u should have trusted ur batting skills... I doubt Kohli to be good captain... m sorry to say that... but Kholi should not be banked upon as future captain... need to explore other options....

  • Nizamdeen on August 5, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    Unfortunately Rasool was never a part of Indian teams plan from the beginning! BCCI always does this! He should have definitely got a chance in the last game, he is not just a spinner he is an all rounder. Jadéjà didn't have anything to prove at this stage. I don't understand what Kholi is trying to say here, is he implying that we might have lost the dead rubber if Jadeja wasn't given a chance to if a chance was given to Rasool?? That is ridiculous, but I always expected this to happen anyways!! Everyone in the team got a game so go figure!!

  • Dummy4 on August 5, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Rasool should have been given a fair chance to prove his talent and abilities.He is not just a spinner he is a capable batsmen as well.There was nothing wrong in giving him a chance in the last ODI atleast when the series was already won against a weak Zimbabwe side.Kohli is not an ideal leader for Indian team instead he is a curse.His immaturity and inability as a leader has been proved here.

  • Gururaj on August 5, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    It was quite unfortunate that Rasool didn't get a game. But,people have to understand that there were quite a few others waiting in the queue as well and take it in a positive way to keep performing at whatever the level he plays and be ready when the opportunity comes next time around! If he does that he will get an opportunity sooner rather than later. Similarly, Vinay Kumar will feel he's bit unlucky to be left out of last few games as he was quite regularly part of the Team before without getting a game and it's same for everyone!

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