InsideSport Poll: 4th consecutive loss for Virat Kohli as test captain, is it time for a change?

Eng beat Ind in 1st Test – Questions over Virat Kohli as Test Captain? Another test match, another team and the Indian cricket team has lost another test match under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. The defeat against England by 227 runs has once again raged the debate – whether it is time to look for a change? The ultra-aggressive Kohli has now lost 4th consecutive test match as captain of the Indian team. It started with defeats in two consecutive test matches against the New Zealand in Feb 2020, continued with humiliating loss against Australia in Adelaide, when under Kohli – India was shot our for their lowest ever test score of 36 – and now the defeat at home against the England side.

Is Ajinkya Rahane’s success in Australia putting pressure on Kohli?

Without any doubt fingers are now being pointed at Kohli’s captaincy. According to some of the biggest cricket names Kohli has lost little zing in his captaincy. On the contrary his replacement Ajinkya Rahane during the Australia tour impressed everyone with his calmness and astute decision making.

Former England cricketer Naseer Hussain felt the 32-year-old has not been as aggressive as he used to be since Rahane succeeded as makeshift skipper. “It is Indian skipper Kohli who has been caught between two stools,” the 52-year-old said. “After Ajinkya Rahane did so well deputising in Australia, he has perhaps been a bit reluctant to be as much in-your-face as in the past. Maybe it was in the back of his mind to be a bit more smiley and allow his team freedom of expression”.

Retired English batsman Michael Vaughan too shared similar views. He opined that allowing Rahane to take over the captaincy would make Virat Kohli more dangerous as a batsman. “I think I would have really considered keeping Ajinkya Rahane as captain for BCCI!! Allowing Kohli to be the batsman only would make India even more dangerous & Rahane has an incredible presence & tactical know-how”. 

So, should Kohli step down as Test captain? Without any doubt, Kohli is one of the most successful test captain India ever had. For now, there is no immediate threat to his captaincy.   But after the shock defeat in the opening test against England if India fails to recover in the series – BCCI’s selectors will start looking beyond Kohli seriously.

“I am not a massive fan of him as a tactician, because he tends to follow the ball and be a bit behind the play at times, rather than dictating it,” Nasser Hussain recently wrote in DailyMail.

Rahane, on the other hand, is calmer and adapts to the situation. Also, he notched up his game under his new role. His century in Melbourne Test was the biggest difference for India’s win in the second Test. Former Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar in an article in Times of India wrote, “When Ajinkya took over the captaincy, the Indian team was in dire straits, having been bowled out just for 36 and losing the first Test. Not many would have volunteered to lead the team at that juncture. But Ajinkya took the bull by its horse and scored an outstanding century.

“That really helped him to call the shots and lead the side from the front. Later, the way he led the boys through the crisis was exemplary. His calmness had a soothing effect on the team,” according to Vengsarkar.

He further added as a captain Rahane’s tactics stood out. “The way he used Ravichandran Ashwin was laudable. He gave the spinner freedom to bowl, but also kept the control in his hands. On the batting front, his decision to promote Rishabh Pant ahead of Hanuma Vihari was a masterstroke”.

It’s clear – Kohli’s captaincy is now under the lens – one more failure may lead to selectors passing the baton to Rahane as India’s permanent test captain.