For a really short tour, this Bangladesh tour has been quick to expose India’s frailties. It has also painted two different images of leadership. The dank settings in Fatullah didn’t allow for much cricket to be played in the Test, but skipper Virat Kohli took the opportunity to press for an aggressive brand of cricket, pledging to lead the scoring. Just over 100 overs of game time and a tepid Test opposition prevented India from flourishing. Kohli didn’t manage a good score either. Still, forcing Bangladesh to follow on was deemed aggressive enough for the team to celebrate.
The ODIs were never going to be a repetition of the Test display. And maybe India were jaded too, after a hectic season which included a testing tour of Australia, the World Cup, and the IPL. The demoralising experience in the first ODI forced Dhoni to ring in some changes. Ajinkya Rahane was dropped in favour of Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni promoted himself to No 4 with Suresh Raina pushed down to No 6. However, Kohli, the team’s best batsman didn’t live up to the exigencies of the situation. Not being able to cross 50 in three innings at a venue where he had scored 183 against Pakistan hurt the team badly.
Not pulling weight
Kohli is in waiting to assume full captaincy whenever Dhoni retires. Dhoni was even seen going up to Kohli to discuss field changes with the ODI vice-captain also advising bowlers. However, when Dhoni needed Kohli the most in the final game on Wednesday, he fell to a delivery that didn’t turn much. He then seemed to retaliate to the send-off by Bangladesh players.
And then, in an interview to the official broadcasters before the third ODI, Kohli came up with a strange explanation for the losses, saying the players didn’t have ‘clarity of mind’ to express themselves. “They (Bangladesh) have played some really good cricket, and honestly we have been sort of doubtful in our decision-making and that shows on the field,” he said.
The remarks can be open to interpretations at a time when two players, Suresh Raina and R Ashwin, known to be close to Dhoni rallied behind him. Kohli also didn’t admit that his failure was central to India’s loss of face in Bangladesh. His way of assessing the situation was opposite to how Dhoni approached the situation. He said his going up the order was to ease the pressure on others.
Dhoni bailed out his team in crisis, and ensured that India won the last ODI and avoided total embarrassment. Barring the rare occasion when he bristled at criticism in a sarcastic tone, Dhoni this time kept his calm. Kohli’s comments though seem ill-timed, leaving one wondering whether there are serious divisions in the camp.