Gautam Gambhir has questioned Virat Kohli's tactical nous in the lead-up to the latest edition of the IPL, a tournament Kohli's side Royal Challengers Bangalore have never won. Gambhir said Kohli should be thankful that his IPL franchise has not sacked him as captain despite his continued failure to win them a title. Gambhir won two titles as captain for Kolkata Knight Riders; as India's vice-captain, he impressed whenever he stepped in to lead in MS Dhoni's absence.
On Star Sports' show 'Game Plan', Gambhir identified the lack of quality bowlers in the Bangalore side as the main reason for their failure to win an IPL, and didn't hold back when asked to analyse Kohli as captain. "Still a long way to go," Gambhir said of Kohli's captaincy. "I don't see him as a shrewd captain. I don't see him as a tactful captain [tactician]. And he hasn't won the IPL. So ultimately, a captain is only as good as his record.
"There are people who have won the trophy three times. MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma. So I think he has a long way to go. You cannot compare him to someone like Rohit or Dhoni at this stage because he has been part of RCB, and captaining RCB for the last seven to eight years, and he has been very lucky and should be thanking the franchise that they stuck with him because not many captains have got such a long rope where they haven't won a tournament."
Under Kohli, Bangalore have won 44 and lost 47 matches. He took over the captaincy full-time in 2012; in seven seasons under Kohli, they have progressed to the play-offs on just two occasions. In recent years, the Royal Challengers have featured the most star-studded batting line-ups in all IPL, and in 2016, Kohli himself broke all records by scoring 973 runs, with Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers not far behind. Yet, the title has eluded them.
Kohli recently blamed poor decision-making for the team's failures. "The failure lies where decisions aren't made properly," Kohli said. "If I sit here and say our luck was bad, that won't be right. You make your own luck, and if you make poor decisions and the other team makes good ones, you will lose. When we played big matches too, our decision-making wasn't right. When your decision-making is spot on and balanced, those teams win the IPL. The teams that are more relaxed, don't take the pressure too much, and take good decisions in pressure moments - they should get the credit for winning."
"Absolute champion. And he deserves to be captain of RCB for whatever period of time. I am sure he will turn it around" SOURAV GANGULY ON VIRAT KOHLI
When Gambhir said Kohli should be thankful he has held on to the captaincy, he possibly alluded to the IPL's evolution into a tournament that has less space for sentiment than international cricket.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils/Capitals remain the only sides without a title, but Bangalore are the only ones to have shown faith in their leadership.
The Delhi franchise has even changed the name of the team for the upcoming season. However, Sourav Ganguly, former India captain, has suggested that consistency leads to success and not the other way around. "I believe in consistency," Ganguly, who was recently unveiled as the Delhi Capitals advisor, said at a franchise event.
"This format requires a clear head and free-hitting. I am a firm believer in consistency and keeping players together. Chennai Super Kings has succeeded with that policy. Mumbai Indians have succeeded with that policy. I am a firm believer in that policy.
"If you talk about Virat Kohli and keeping him as a captain, just look at what he has done. What he has done with the bat in every format of the game. Absolute champion. And he deserves to be captain of RCB for whatever period of time. I am sure he will turn it around."