Virat Kohli believes the Brisbane Test will be an opportunity to open up his vision and implement his on the field…
An injury to the regular captain with a major overseas tour and a World Cup approaching would rank pretty high on most teams’ anti-wish list. MS Dhoni’s thumb fracture has been decidedly inconvenient, but if it had to happen, it’s good from India’s point of view that it happened when it did. It allowed Virat Kohli an uninterrupted series against Sri Lanka as the leader, instead of a half-series or, worse, being asked to lead straight up in Australia. That Kohli is in line to take over as captain once Dhoni’s days are past isn’t news, but there is a marked gulf between being the man-in-waiting and being the man.
Kohli has led India in limited-overs cricket several times in the past, but this will be his longest uninterrupted run, crowned by the honour of captaining India in their first Test against Australia in Brisbane, starting on December 4. “It is a massive moment for me, leading in my first Test match and that too in Australia. I’m really excited
because I have some plans in mind,” said Kohli recently. “The focus will be to plan on how we want to win the Test match, and not on individual goals too much, because that can really shift your focus away from what you want to achieve as a team.
“Someone scoring 30 good runs at the end might be the difference between winning the Test match or losing it. There is no criteria that batsmen have to score 500, 600 or 700 runs. The planning will always be about how do we want to win this Test match, how do we want to play each session and target batsmen and bowlers separately. That’s something I would look to bring into play as a captain, and it is a very special moment for me indeed.”
“I strongly believe in whatever I do on the field, and that’s why – more often than not – I have been able to execute whatever plans I have. Everyone has those positive thoughts too, going into the plan. If as a captain, I put a field and the bowler is running in to take a wicket, more often than not, he will take a wicket. It’s mostly about what you think as a leader or as a player. This gives me an opportunity to get the guys along with me, and keep them at the same intensity level that I expect them to be at.”
It’s clear that Kohli, who first came into prominence when he led India’s Under-19 side to World Cup glory in 2008, relishes the challenge of leadership, but he was quick to point out that the cliché of ‘a captain being only as good as his team’ was true. “The reason I am made to look good on the field is because everyone is giving that 100 per cent effort and backing what I’m asking them to do,” he said. “It’s a combination between the players and the leader, but yes, being the captain really gives me an opportunity to execute the plans I think of on the field. And the guys have responded beautifully.”
Kohli has always had an old head – or a wise head, at any rate – on young shoulders, and showed pragmatism again in his philosophy of leadership. “The focus is on keeping the guys comfortable in the team environment and keep them happy. Back them throughout and keep them positive. Right now we’re winning, there will be times when we won’t get the right kind of results as well,” he said. Tougher challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, but for now, Kohli has ensured that even if he has only taken baby steps, every box is ticked.
-© Provided by Wisden