New beginning for India as Dhoni era ends in Tests

  • IANS, Sydney
  • Updated: Jan 05, 2015 22:37 IST

India go into the fourth and final cricket Test against Australia on Tuesday embarking on a new era after the shock retirement of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

It will be testing times for the new and fiery skipper Virat Kohli following Dhoni's retirement from the longest format of the game after the third Test at Melbourne.

Kohli will hope to learn from Dhoni's calm demeanour but this sentiment will surely be questioned on the field by Australia, who have already bagged the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Though India have lost the series 2-0, they have been competitive throughout, giving a tough fight to the home side.

India's Test captain Virat Kohli speaks to teammates as former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni listens during a practice session at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) ahead of the fourth Test against Australia. (AFP Photo)

Despite a couple of failures, India's batting has largely clicked and there is no reason why Kohli and his men will not rise to the occasion on a batsman-friendly pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Kohli has been in prime form in the three Tests so far, hitting 499 runs at a staggering average of 83.16 which includes three centuries.

Opener Murali Vijay has provided stability at the top when his partner Shikhar Dhawan has failed while middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has also impressed.

India's most successful bowler of the series Varun Aaron is back after attending his grandfather's funeral and is likely to be included in the playing XI as wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha will take over from Dhoni to play his fourth Test and his first as the main choice 'keeper.

Meanwhile, there is only one change in the Australian squad from Melbourne. In a relief for the Indian batsman, left-handed pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson is out of the SCG Test with hamstring soreness and will be replaced by Mitchell Starc.

Though stand-in skipper Steven Smith has said that his team will try to play in a relaxed manner as they have already won the series, an aggressive Kohli is unlikely to back down from the heated exchanges that have taken place so far.

The match will also see a return to the ground where the late Phillip Hughes was hit by a bouncer on his head on November 25 that led to his tragic demise two days later.

There was an outpour of emotion for Hughes at the start of the first Test in Adelaide and a similar situation is expected.

'Had no clue Dhoni would quit'

Kohli spoke about what happened just after the third Test against Australia at Melbourne when Dhoni entered the dressing room and announced his sudden retirement from Test cricket.

"We were doing our usual thing after the game, packing our bags and stuff, and then he came in and said he wants to say something. And he just announced it," Kohli was quoted as saying by

Kohli also added that the whole team was shocked to hear Dhoni's decision as it came all of a sudden like a bolt from the blue.

"We were all taken aback by his decision because it was so sudden, we had no clue. We never saw it coming," Kohli said.

"It was pretty shocking at that point for all of us and we didn't really know what to say to him because it was a very emotional moment for him. We, as youngsters who've started under his captaincy, it was a very strange moment for us."

The 26-year-old middle-order batsman also believed "there is so much to learn" from the former skipper, and said he would not shy away from taking Dhoni's advice.

"There's so much to learn from him, especially in tough situations. His composure, his decision-making at important times; these are the things that are priceless. Any captain would like to have them," Kohli said.

"I hope I can be as calm as him but everyone has different styles. As long as you can try and pick out the positives from every person, that's how you improve every day. I know what skills he has as a captain and I'll always try to pick his brains and take advice from him whenever I can."

Kohli also captained the tourists in the first match of the Test series in Adelaide and almost won India the game before the middle and lower-order crumbled like a pack of cards, resulting in Australia clinching the encounter.

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