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Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team eyes Australian trait in quest for ruthlessness

Virat Kohli’s Indian team are establishing a ruthless streak on the lines of the dominant Australia side as the team seeks overseas Test glory and a 2019 World Cup high in England.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 21, 2017 17:01 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Dambulla
India vs Sri Lanka,India national cricket team,Sri Lanka national cricket team
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team have dominated Sri Lanka in the current series and they will be aiming to maintain this ruthlessness ahead of upcoming away tours and the 2019 World Cup in England.(REUTERS)

The chief characteristic of Australia when they ruled world cricket was how they kept the opposition down even when victory was a foregone conclusion.

There was no question of dragging the game, toying with the team that was sinking. That attitude not just made the losing side feel Australia’s overwhelming superiority, it also demoralised them.

Former Aussie skipper Steve Waugh swore by “mental disintegration”, an approach that told the opposition it would lose even before a ball was bowled in the game during over a decade from the mid-1990s.

Virat Kohli’s Indian team too have adopted aggression as their mantra in the ongoing Sri Lanka tour. India have caught Sri Lanka at perhaps their lowest point since making an entry into international cricket, going back to the late 1970s.

When he took over as skipper during the 2014-15 Australia tour, Virat Kohli too declared the Aussie approach would be his model; when the opposition is down, keep it down. The latest evidence of that attitude on the Sri Lankan tour came in Sunday’s nine-wicket drubbing in the first One-day International at the Dambulla International Stadium.

When Kohli took over as Test captain, he spoke of building a unit that bought into his philosophy of playing aggressively. Although he had to temper that all-out approach after losing the Galle Test in 2015, his first in a full tour, intent has remained the abiding factor.

India are some distance from being mentioned in the same breath as the great West Indies or Australian sides. They are the world No 1 Test side, and No 3 in the ODI rankings. The next big step will be winning away from the sub-continent, and being seen as a force in England, Australia and South Africa. They are yet to win a Test series in two of those countries.

The Indian cricket team’s ruthless streak was evident in the way Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli hammered the hapless Sri Lanka bowling attack.

Lasith Malinga, who has taken 298 ODI wickets and Sri Lanka’s trump card, looked out of shape with his famed yorkers fired in from a slingy action no longer carrying the old pace. Dhawan acknowledged that helped attack the once fearsome bowler.

The left-hander, who smashed two centuries in the Test series, smashed an unbeaten 132 – century off 71 balls was the fastest of his 11 centuries – and Virat Kohli (82 no) gave no respite to Sri Lanka’s inexperienced bowling attack. The pair hammered 142 of the team’s 220 runs in boundaries to wrap up the game with 21.1 overs to spare.

India had also been relentless while sweeping to a 3-0 Test series win. The first two matches ended in four days while the visitors completed the rout by winning the final Test in Pallekele, venue of the next two ODIs on August 24 and 27, in three days.

Kohli has said through the tour that India were trying to focus on areas they need to keep improving rather than the weak opposition. That has included a new momentum to fitness, which Shikhar Dhawan acknowledged was keeping him on his toes.

Virat Kohli led by example, producing a brilliant run out of Chamara Kapugedera. And Kedar Jadhav’s superb catch in the deep got rid of Wanindu Hasaranga. India’s ruthless approach has only deepened the crisis in the Sri Lankan team.

First Published: Aug 21, 2017 13:30 IST