Brisbane: Two days before the Brisbane Test, Team India gathered to form a huddle at practice and surprisingly it was Virat Kohli who addressed the players despite captain MS Dhoni being part of the huddle.
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni
On Day Two, as India went into field it was Kohli once again who seemed to be interacting with the bowlers more than ever before. In Adelaide, he had fielded at third slip then moved across to mid-off and mid-on once the bowlers started to make blunders. Yesterday, he opted to stand at mid-off right from the start.
Throughout the day he kept rushing over to the bowlers and on a couple of occasions ran all the way to Dhoni either to convey a message or relay his instructions. Maybe just maybe, Kohli has been given more responsibility.
But, in between, it was also clear that the tactical mind of Dhoni still dominated the proceedings. At one point, Ishant Sharma bowled to an eight-one field. But it did not last for long. When R Ashwin came on to bowl, there was no man patrolling the boundary on either side of the pitch, a rare occurrence under the captaincy of Dhoni.
MSD's tactic works
With an over to go before tea, Dhoni advised Umesh Yadav to go around the wicket and try roughening up opener Chris Rogers with the short ball. The plan worked as Rogers edged one down the leg side to Dhoni.
In the next 11 overs, India were starting to strangle their opponents by giving away just 27 runs. Something had to give and Australian skipper Steve Smith took the initiative by scoring 16 runs off one Ashwin over to put the pressure on India.
But once again, Dhoni reverted to the short ball theory. A leg slip, short leg and a square leg 40 yards from the batsman was employed. It was a ploy to take wickets and also slow down the scoring.
Shaun Marsh fell for the trap, as his attempted pull resulted in a skier, only to be put down by Ajinkya Rahane. The blunder didn't cost India dearly though as Yadav followed up Varun Aaron's tactic diligently and had Marsh caught at first slip by R Ashwin attempting to drive a full wide short ball off the back foot.
Australia threatened to break away a couple of times in the match but some intelligent tactics swayed the game back in India's favour. Dhoni working with Kohli, even if it's ever so slightly might not be a bad thing.