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Dealing with Delhi duo will be Kohli's big test

The futuristic decision of the selectors to appoint Virat Kohli as vice-captain has changed the dynamics among the Delhi boys in the India team.
Hindustan Times | By N Ananthanarayanan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2012 01:42 AM IST

The futuristic decision of the selectors to appoint Virat Kohli as vice-captain has changed the dynamics among the Delhi boys in the India team. The two players he has superseded for the job are his seniors, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. It's a delicate situation to be in for a youngster, especially when some feel the seniors have been sidelined to break the Delhi clique in the team.

Both Sehwag and Gambhir were strong contenders for captaincy, having already led the team on a few occasions. However, they are reportedly not on the same page as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"We discussed it (the issue he might face). He has always been groomed to be respectful to his elders. Sometime ago, he was jokingly saying, sir kya aap kise ke bhi pair bandwa dete ho (You make me touch everybody's feet). He respects both (Sehwag and Gambhir) a lot and will always give respect to them," says Virat's coach Raj Kumar Sharma.

Former Delhi Ranji stalwart Aakash Chopra says appointing Virat is a step for the future, and if it is not merely meant to send a message to anyone, then it is definitely a welcome move.

"Gambhir and Dhoni are of the same age and could go at around the same time. The way Virat has come on as a player, he should be around for several years," says the former India opener.

Asked how Gambhir and Sehwag would react, Chopra says Gambhir had himself to blame for how he batted in the Tests in England and Australia. That took him out of the equation, especially in the longer version for games away from the sub-continent. "I'm sure they won't be brooding, these things happen. Captaincy is nobody's fiefdom and all modern day players are fully aware they need to pull together in the same direction," said Chopra.

"I know the bond among the Delhi players. Even if Virat becomes skipper in the future, he would definitely approach Viru or Gauti for tips and they would gladly provide that. They know the decision is not his; he's just doing his job. The environment has become quite professional these days."

Another former Delhi and India player, Maninder Singh, said: "Gambhir struggled in the Test series in England and Australia, and I believe that cost him the vice-captaincy and possible future captaincy. His batting has let him down.

"Viru was never captaincy material. In fact, I don't understand why they made him vice-captain for Australia.

"Sehwag has also struggled as a batsman in England and Australia. He is ageing, he is 33. He relies on hand-eye coordination. And when reflexes slow down for such a player, he is bound to struggle," said the former left-arm spinner.

Madan Lal advised the senior players to take it in their stride. "There is nothing to feel bad about. It is part and parcel of international sport. They have to keep performing well and not think about it. If they do, and their performances suffer, they will suffer.

"Gambhir might feel bad, but Kohli has shown great attitude and I feel he is quite popular with the players. I'm sure he will learn fast."

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