From being perceived as a brash 19-year-old five years ago to becoming a pillar of India’s batting line-up, Virat Kohli’s career has come a long way. Quite understandably, he has been time and again spoken of as India’s captain-in-waiting.
While India haven’t tinkered with captaincy since Mahendra Singh Dhoni took over in 2007, Kohli took over from Gautam Gambhir as the team’s vice-captain during the Asia Cup in March 2012. His first full ODI series as captain saw India inflict a 5-0 whitewash on Zimbabwe last week. Prior to that, he led India to two wins in three ODIs in Dhoni’s absence during the tri-series in West Indies. While Kohli’s acid test is yet to come, the finer points he dwells on while discussing captaincy is an indication of his keenness to constantly learn on the job.
“I spoke a lot to Dhoni about how to keep my composure in difficult situations,” he was quoted as saying by IANS. “I have seen him and he does not react at all, it is a very hard thing for a captain and I tried to learn as much as I could from him. I spoke to him about field placings, when to control a certain situation in a match, when to go defensive and when on the attack.
“I observe him a lot when I am standing with him on the field. I notice what he tries to do with his bowlers and field placements. I have really learnt a lot from him and it has really helped me in leading the side.”
While Kohli has shown early promise as a leader, his under-19 and India teammate Ravindra Jadeja has quietly worked his way up to No. 1 in the ICC ODI bowlers’ rankings. His 38 wickets in 22 ODIs this year, at a miserly economy rate of 3.78, further indicates his rise in stature as one of important members of the ODI side. Kohli attributed this transformation to a lot of hard work and self-belief.
“I am really happy for Jadeja that he is the No.1 bowler in the world and he deserves it,” Kohli said. “He is one of those guys who will always make something happen on the field. When he comes on to bowl, he will probably get you the breakthrough or just control the run flow straightaway. He has made a huge impact on our ODI victories.
“I am not surprised, to be honest. He has made huge strides in international cricket specially in the ODIs. In the last one or two years he has really been consistent with his bowling. Plus, he chips in with the bat every time the team needs.”