IND vs SA: Virat Kohli must take ownership for defeat, not pick fights
India captain Kohli needs to take ownership for defeat and not pick fights
SA pacer Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma on Day Five in Centurion yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
The surrender was abject. On a pitch that almost everyone described as being more Indian than South African, India were bowled out for 151. All the talk about this being the best chance to win a series in South Africa ended up being just that. All the assertions from captain and coach that this team could go where no Indian team had before, turned out to hugely optimistic and all of a sudden a 3-0 whitewash loomed.
India's batsmen collectively failed to apply themselves and to top it all off, Virat Kohli, the Indian captain displayed amazing gracelessness at the post-match press conference. Sample this exchange:
Virat Kohli was asked about him speaking about it not 'coming together well'. Was that the cause of changing of selection? Virat Kohli has been captain for over 30 Tests, but has he changed his starting line-up for all of them? To win Test matches you need consistency, and Virat Kohli has been lacking that part.
Virat Kohli was asked how would he continue changing his team and still expect different results?
How many Test matches have we won out of 34?, asked Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli was further asked in how many Tests has he changed the XI. Virat Kohli further said, 'How many have we won? How many have we won? 21 wins. Two losses. How many draws? [In fact, Kohli has won 20 as captain and lost five, out of 34 he had led in].
On being quizzed on wins in India, Kohli said, 'Does it matter? Wherever we play we try to do our best. I'm here to answer your questions, not to fight with you.'
And yet, what Kohli did, was pick a fight. The Indian captain needs to understand that when his team lose a Test on a spicy pitch in Newlands inside three days and then lose by 135 runs on a pitch that played to all the visitors' strengths, questions will be asked. And the most appropriate response is to take ownership of the lack of performance, not pick fights.
And, this was not the only time Kohli was downright abrasive. He refused to be criticised for dropping Ajinkya Rahane, who only averages 53 outside the subcontinent, he lives in a bubble where the Indian team is actually the best in the world. In reality, it is only the No. 1 ranked team, based on a flawed system that allows a team to garner points by playing largely at home, or away against weak Sri Lanka and West Indies teams for a period of 18 months.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who has grown up placing a premium on his wicket, committed the cardinal sin of running himself out twice in one Test. Hardik Pandya, the next great hope in Indian cricket, played at balls he should have left alone and gifted his wicket away. As for the tail, the less said the better, but you can hardly blame the bowlers. They did the job, picking up 20 wickets once more while the batting millionaires went AWOL. If India want to win abroad, they first need to accept that something is wrong. Then comes the harder processes of identifying just what and the blood, sweat and tears that goes into becoming true champions.
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