'This is why he is such a successful captain': Ex-Pakistan skipper praises Kohli for Rahane statement after NZ series
- Despite the outside noise growing stronger by the day, captain Kohli admitted that it will not impact the decision of the team management and backed the team's vice-captain.
Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt was left mighty impressed with Indian Test captain Virat Kohli for backing off-colour Ajinkya Rahane after the team's massive win against New Zealand in the second Test in Mumbai on Monday.
Rahane's form has left many questioning his place in the India Test line-up, especially with the crucial South Africa tour around. In last 16 Tests, which does include that Melbourne ton, Rahane averages only 24.39. In the Kanpur opener against New Zealand, where he led the Indian side in the absence of Kohli, scored 35 and 4 following which his average dropped to 39.01, the lowest he has recorded in seven years.
Despite the outside noise growing stronger by the day, captain Kohli admitted that it will not impact the decision of the team management and backed the team's vice-captain.
"I can't judge Ajinkya's form," Kohli said in the post-match presser. "Nobody can judge anybody's form, for that matter. Because only an individual knows what part of his game he has to work on. But, as I have said in the past, it is important to back those players who have made impact performances in difficult situations and important Test matches in the past. We don't entertain this kind of atmosphere in the team that a player starts worrying about 'what next' the moment he is under a little bit of pressure.
"Yes, we can't expect this kind of balance from those on the outside where those who are singing praises will be asking for a player's head in two months. We don't react that way ever nor will we do it in the future because we know how much effort and hard work goes in for any person to get into a positive mental space, and we will support it. Be it Ajinkya or whoever. We will never take decisions based on the outside atmosphere."
Hailing Kohli's words, Butt, speaking on his YouTube channel, pointed it out as the reason behind the 33-year-old successful stint as the captain of the Indian Test team.
"One of the most valuable reason behind Team India's success under the captaincy of Virat Kohli is backing his players, especially when they most need them. Not just Kohli, pick any good captain in world cricket, they will always back their proven player, who is now going through a lean phase. And when such players are backed during their time of struggle, with the amount of confidence the player gains they come out stronger and produce unthinkable results," Butt said.
The veteran cricketer also reminded fans about Rahane's credentials as an overseas batsman and that he had successfully led the Indian side to Test series victory in Australia earlier this year in the absence of big-name players including Kohli, while also performing as a batsman.
"In cases when the player has top-class credentials, has helped script unbelievable victories, or has performed well under pressure, you have to back them. And this is the reason why he is such a successful captain. He trusts his players, backs him through thick and thin. And that is why players respond. And he is the vice-captain of the Indian team, who led the Indian side to victory in Australia in the absence of Kohli and has performed as batsman as well," he added.
Rahane will face stiff competition from Shreyas Iyer, who scored 105 and 65 in his debut appearance in the New Zealand series, and Hanuma Vihari, who scored back-to-back fifties for India A in the second unofficial Test in South Africa to eke out a draw. Not to forget, the management might also look at Shubman Gill as a middle-order option for the series.
The South Africa tour will begin with the three-Test series starting December 26 in Centurion.