While he has done no wrong as Test captain so far, former India captain Kapil Dev feels Virat Kohli’s real test starts now.
“I’m a great Virat fan but I fear he might feel overburdened now,” Kapil told HT, referring to Kohli becoming ODI and T20 skipper after MS Dhoni stepped down, adding, “Virat needs a good start in the series (against England) as a batsman and in terms of results, and pray things fall in place. I don’t want him to feel the burden in limited overs because his captaincy in Tests is more important to me.”
While Kohli has been aggressive and successful as Test captain, 14 wins in a two-year stint, Kapil feels he is still learning. “Virat is an emotional cricketer and while that has been his strength as a player, Test captaincy has allowed him to mature and handle different situations accordingly. Limited overs will be challenging and with superman-like expectations, he definitely will need time to settle down. We all need to give him that,” said Kapil.
While Kohli has been winning in Tests, Kapil says he has become better as captain. “Look at how he availed of DRS in the first Test. He was charged up and almost restless and would take the call from wherever he was fielding. But then he realised his mistake. By the time the last Test was played, he was not relying just on bowlers, he would go to specific fielders or the wicketkeeper for suggestions. He adapted well and that showed his maturity. He will lose a few games too and that will be his biggest challenge --- how quickly to get out of that situation. The entire country has hopes from him,” he said.
Kapil felt Dhoni had done a good job but saw the writing on the wall. “I wasn’t happy with the way Dhoni quit Test cricket, rather unexpectedly in the middle of an away series, this time he was dead right. To my mind, he is one of India’s best captains and he passed the baton to Virat, giving him time to look at Champions Trophy and prepare for the 2019 World Cup.”
While Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have expressed their desire to play till the World Cup, Kapil felt it was not going to be easy. “Nobody can doubt the talent Dhoni and Yuvraj have, but when you are 34-35, talent alone doesn’t help. So many things have to be looked at --- fitness, motivation and above all runs. They will obviously have Virat’s confidence, but performances will count more than anything. If Dhoni and Yuvraj do well at No 4 and 5 in this series, India will stand a better chance of defending the Champions Trophy.”
Kapil refused to be drawn into the Ravi Shastri-Sourav Ganguly debate. “It is Ravi’s call, whoever he thinks is a great captain in his mind, but if you ask me, I would rate Sunil Gavaskar above many other Indian captains. Sunny didn’t have the resources in those times so he didn’t win much but suppose he had the same players as say Dhoni or Dada (Ganguly), he would have also won a lot. It is the team that makes you a good or bad captain though smart leaders know how to make best use of resources at their disposal.”