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Like 2007, chance for new skipper Virat Kohli to emerge in the West Indies

The 2007 World Cup exit saw the emergence of MS Dhoni. Will the ICC Champions Trophy defeat see a new Virat Kohli emerge in the West Indies, where a coach-player rift hurt India’s campaign.

cricket Updated: Jun 19, 2017 21:28 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Virat Kohli,Indian Cricket Team,India vs Pakistan
India's Virat Kohli walks off at the end of the Pakistan innings at the ICC Champions Trophy final.(REUTERS)

Defeat in an ICC event final, and that too against Pakistan, can rankle for a long time. India captain Virat Kohli will be braced for it after losing the title clash of the ICC Champions Trophy, a tournament whose build-up involved off-field talk that are not generally heard from the Indian dressing room. (IND vs PAK Match Highlights)

India started the 2017 edition as defending champions and played like one till the final at the Oval on Sunday. The confidence boosting wins in the group stages and the semi-final pushed an important question to the background – will Anil Kumble continue as coach?

READ | Virat Kohli defends dismal India show vs Pakistan in ICC Champions Trophy final

That question is expected to be answered after India’s limited-overs tour of the West Indies, a region that hosted the 2007 ICC World Cup – a tournament that last saw unrest in the Indian dressing room due to tiff between the then coach Greg Chappell and the players.

The situation is less worse this time. Kohli himself declared he had “no issues” with Kumble and people talking about the rift were “without any knowledge.” The captain may be right, but Kumble’s future as India coach is still not confirmed.

The 2007 experience

The last time a coach controversy hogged the limelight in Indian cricket, it saw the emergence of MS Dhoni as captain. After the group stage exit from the 2007 World Cup, it was the young Dhoni who surprised all by leading India to the 2007 World T20 crown in South Africa.

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli bats during a training session at the Oval cricket ground in London. ( PTI )

It has been followed by years of success that saw India become the No 1 Test side, the World Cup champions and the ICC Champions Trophy winners.

Captain Kohli, at this stage, is far more experienced than Dhoni was in 2007. He is already the leader of the No 1 Test side and is one of the best batsmen in the world. But failure is a new phenomenon to him. How well will he handle it is the question.

A more mature Kohli

Will it see the emergence of a more mature Kohli? Especially, at a time when India are scheduled to play a series of overseas tours involving Australia, New Zealand and England?The comforting thing is that Kohli was gracious in defeat after the Champions Trophy final against Pakistan. “It’s the final, so it looks magnified to everyone, but we have won before, we have lost before, and we have always learnt things from all those games,” was his reaction, at the post match press conference, on the way ahead.

READ | Mohammad Amir times Virat Kohli’s dismissal perfectly in Champions Trophy final

He also acknowledged that the core of the current Indian team will remain same. “The same bowlers are going to play, the same guys are going to bat. But the more consistent you get in learning from games like this (final vs PAK), it’s better for the team in the future. That’s an area we certainly need to look at,” he said.

Fresh challenges

Losing in the final is definitely not an aberration in the sporting world. But Kohli the captain has a bigger task ahead. After the loss to Pakistan, the overseas series and the coach conundrum will be two big challenges that Kohli, who has been high on success in the past one year, will have to tackle.

Kohli’s predecessor Dhoni excelled in it, going on to become India’s most successful captain ever. Will Kohli find a way to emerge as a new captain? He can always go to his veteran wicketkeeper for valuable suggestions.

First Published: Jun 19, 2017 19:17 IST