India’s batting mainstay Virat Kohli has said the team was doubtful in its decision-making and that showed on the field during the team's 1-2 loss to Bangladesh in an ODI series that ended on Wednesday.
Kohli told Star Sports he was unhappy with the way things were handled in the series, adding that a lack of clarity in the Indian players' minds was evident in the way they approached the game. "Credit goes to the Bangladesh team for the way they have played. We are not expressing ourselves like we normally do and are used to. Not too happy with the way we have played. We have been sort of doubtful in our decision-making and that shows on the field," he said in an interview to the broadcaster.
Kohli clarified his stance, saying: "I don't need to say it in an interview; our cricket watchers and experts can see it (that) our guys are not sure enough to express themselves. In the first two games, we failed to express ourselves with clarity of mind."
This is the first time Kohli has expressed his frustration at the team's apparent reluctance to alter tactics on the field when things aren't going well. Dhoni's shock Test retirement last year led to murmurs that all has not been well between him and Kohli. The skipper uncharacteristically spoke of 'unrest' in the dressing room last year, referring to a spat between Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, breaking the unspoken code of not letting issues between players out in the open.
Since taking over the reigns of Test captaincy in December last year following Dhoni's surprise retirement from the Test format, Kohli has repeatedly advocated an attacking style of play. Even team director Ravi Shastri has insisted that expressing oneself in the middle is the way forward for the young Indian team. It was to this end that Shastri threw a party for the team in appreciation of their attacking play in the one-off Test against Bangladesh, even though the match ended in a draw.
Kohli's expressive, attacking style of leadership is in contrast to that of Dhoni, who is known as Captain Cool for his calm, less expressive style.
Kohli's comments come in the wake of teammates Suresh Raina and R Ashwin's open backing of Dhoni on the eve of the third ODI. While Raina tweeted an old picture of himself with Dhoni with the hashtag 'respect', Ashwin told the media that it was time to rally behind his captain.
"If you don't go behind your leader (now), then when will you? So as far as I am concerned, it's like an army; if you don't go behind your leader, then you are definitely going to get shot. If my captain asks me to die on the field, I'll do it," the off-spinner said.
"It's not just now, any captain, you have to go behind him. If he asks you to die on the field, you have to be prepared to do it. Dhoni is one of the star cricketers. He has done so much for the nation. We can't really forget what he has done. You can't blame him for the entire team's performance," Ashwin added.
In fact, even Dhoni - not known to worry too much about the fate of a game or series - offered to step down after India lost the series on Sunday. Though it was later termed a sarcastic jibe, it does raise questions on whether captaincy is finally taking a toll on Captain Cool.