‘Sourav Ganguly was like - go on, play. I am behind you. But that’s not Virat Kohli’s method’: Kaif on captaincy
- Kaif explained that it is important for players in the current Indian team to feel wanted, which can only come if they get a longer run with the team, something that Ganguly used to do. But that's not Virat Kohli's method.
Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli are two of Indian cricket's most dynamic captains, who brought about a change in the mindset and approach in the team during their eras of captaincy. Under Ganguly, the team turned over a new leaf and would not bag down in front of any challenge, a trait that is similar with Kohli, whose aggressive and in-you-face captaincy has gotten people talking.
However, the one big difference between Ganguly and Kohli is the number of opportunities they would give their players, pointed out former India batsman Mohammad Kaif. Under Ganguly, for five years, India would play almost the same team in all the tournaments, with some slight chances here and there, with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid being the constants with the bat and the likes of Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble being the go-to men with the ball in both Tests and ODIs.
But that is not the case with Kohli, who has a habit of fielding a different Playing XI almost every match. In fact, for 38 straight Test matches, Kohli had gone ahead with a different Playing XI before the patterns stopped in 2018, when he fielded the same XI against England in the fourth Test at Southampton as the one he did in the third game of the series at Nottingham.
Weighing in on the same, Kaif explained that it is important for players in the current Indian team to feel wanted, which can only come if they get a longer run with the team, something that Ganguly used to do.
"When I was captain for many years, I have captained several young players. So, in the long term, the security of a player's place in the team is what mattered. Things like 'go on, play. You will get 4-5 opportunities; I am behind you'. Basically, what Ganguly used to do with us. That is the classic way of handling. That is what a leader does. But that is not Virat Kohli's method," Kaif told Sports Tak.
Having said that, Kaif understands that things were way different at the time Ganguly was in charge. Unlike today, the pool of Indian players in the early 2000s wasn't as strong, which is why the former India captain relied mostly upon his usual bank of players.
"Back then, when we speak about Ganguly, he didn't have so many options. We didn't have the IPL back then. There were fewer distractions. He had the same pool of 20-25 players and he had to pick out of them to play and support. So Ganguly knew that. He too had seen that if a player is not backed, not given opportunities, a player is not able to give his best performance. He has a feeling of doubt and fear in his mind," Kaif explained.