India has now lost 5 ODIs on the trot under Virat Kohli-3 against New Zealand earlier this year and 2 in the ongoing series against Australia. The alarm bells are starting to sound, and the skipper-whose status is really under pressure from Vice-Captain Rohit Sharma-has a lot of questions to address.
Critique of Virat Kohli’s captainship is now coming openly from all corners of the cricketing brotherhood, with numerous present and former players throwing their weight behind the Mumbai Indian skipper. And not without justification, as the 32-year-old has made a series of surprising errors in captaining India and the Royal Challengers Bangalore over the last few years.
Here are three obvious mistakes stated by experts that Virat Kohli has made in the ODI series so far.
#3 Virat Kohli has failed to pace India’s run-chases properly
Virat Kohli is the master of the run-chase, and we don’t even need to note his stats in the second inning to explain the same thing. The Indian skipper is the best in the world at the moment in driving chases, but he and his squad have struggled miserably in this respect in the course of the first two ODIs.
In the 1st ODI, chasing a challenging target, India was comfortably poised to meet its team in just 4.1 overs and to take as many as 20 runs off the top of the innings delivered by Mitchell Starc. But they crashed in the rest of the power play and lost 4 wickets by the thirteenth to abandon the mountain to ascend to the lower middle order.
Virat Kohli, who walked in No. 3 as always, seemed bent on finishing the chase in 40 overs and tried to go hell for leather despite his team being in the lead place. He was finally shot for a run-a-ball21, squeezed for space on a short ball, and found mid-wicket. The second ODI was the opposite-Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan were more sedated, and Kohli himself took a lot of time to get back.
While he made up for it marginally by accelerating in the middle overs, he left Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja with too much to do. India seemed to overestimate and underestimate the power of their lower middle order in the 1st and 2nd ODIs, and the blame had to fall on their captain, who was supposed to be the one to lead them home in chases.
#2 Virat Kohli’s team selection has left a lot to be desired
Over the course of his tenure as Indian captain, Virat Kohli has built a reputation for being annoying-happy. The inconsistencies in the composition of every team he was at the helm of and the lack of clarification over the positions in the team were also exposed. India’s initial 15-man squad for the ODI series featured two all-rounders in Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, and it was common knowledge that the former was likely to act as a specialist batsman.
Both Virat Kohli and the selectors did not show any desire to choose more all-rounders later-Natarajan and Sanju Samson were added to the ODI team, but the likes of Vijay Shankar, Shivam Dube, and Washington Sundar were not considered. None of these players are likely to have played XI, but with the size of the squad increasing in the pandemic period, it would not have hurt to have few backups on the bench.
Moreover, after a huge loss in the 1st ODI, many wanted Virat Kohli to ring in the changes. But he remained with the same side despite Navdeep Saini appearing strikingly out of color after suffering back spasms and Yuzvendra Chahal running against almost every batsman.
#1 Virat Kohli’s usage of his frontline bowlers has been abysmal
Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are the two frontline bowlers at the hands of Virat Kohli. Both pacers had outstanding Indian Premier League campaigns in which they were the strike bowlers of their squads, and were superbly used by KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, respectively.
Yet Virat Kohli has dealt with them abysmally. In the 1st ODI, it was obvious that Shami was the main wicket-taking threat, but he was always taken out of the attack after one over. The outcome was that he scored his 10 overs in 6 (yes,6!) spells, and yet managed to pick up 3 wickets while conceding only 59 runs. In the 2nd ODI, Bumrah was given a new ball and pulled out of the attack after only 2 overs in favor of the out-of-form Navdeep Saini. The Mumbai Indians easily bowed their first 5 overs in 4 (yes,4!) spells in the game, and Australia cruised to another controlling start. Some former and current cricketers applied a pinch of salt to the pot.
Virat Kohli made the same mistakes at the time of his death as well-Saini made the final in the 2nd ODI despite Shami’s over-leave and India was also taken to cleaners on a number of other occasions in the recent past. Virat Kohli’s reputation as an international captain is clearly under threat.