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2016 – The Year of Team India’s Test Redemption Towards A Giant Leap

December 26, 2016

Alastair Cook

The recently announced ICC ODI Team of the year features 3 Indians as Virat Kohli steps into the Captain’s shoes with Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja sitting alongside him. On the other hand its Test counterpart could see only one Indian, Ravichandran Ashwin, the ICC 2016 Player of the Year. But despite the fact that the Indian run-machine could not seal his berth in the ICC Test Team of the year 2016, few would argue that India’s test campaign have been far more supreme compared to that of limited overs. Kohli has propelled his side to perfection, allowing it to climb soaring heights in this year. With the commanding 4-0 series victory against England Team India has taken its winning tally to 9 test wins for the year without being beaten once and in the process making 2016 the most memorable of the running decade in white outfits.

Back in December 2014, when Kohli assumed charges taking over the longer format reins from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, there were dark clouds of uncertainty over Team India’s Test future. Many felt that Kohli’s over-aggressive approach might not have been the best bet to deal with the typical test match situations. Conventional people would always prefer calm and composed nature to trump aggression when it comes to the longer version. Experts also raised their doubts that captaincy pressure could bring adverse effects on Kohli’s batting.

But the matter of fact remains that pressure has always added an extra dimension to Virat’s game. And by the end of the England series the same set of people who questioned on Kohli’s attitude are finding the same to be the most appealing amongst all the captains around the globe. Having taken the responsibilities at such a point from where Indian Test Team was going nowhere the Indian Captain has staged a terrific turnaround to set everything at the right place. Clearly having bagged 14 wins inside first 22 games Captain Kohli is shining magnificently at the moment.

Let’s dig a little deeper to see how well he has carried out his leadership duties.

Prior to his captaincy period Kohli had played 32 matches with an average of 41 having scored 7 centuries and 10 half centuries. But since he was made captain that average has raced away to 63 for this period. In just 22 games, with a majestic conversion rate he has scored 4 half centuries and 8 centuries. More crucially all his 3 double hundreds have come while leading the side. That he looks a much assured test batsman is a clear measure of the fact that Kohli the captain is helping Kohli the batsman perform even better under crucial circumstances.

The best thing to have happened to Indian Team is the aura of positivity which Virat has brought to the table. In his very early days of captaincy he made it clear that he wanted to develop a winning culture and he wants to play for results. While leading his side for the first time against Australia in Australia he made this a statement that he would not welcome any sort of negativity. On the final day of the Adelaide Test where India were left out to chase down the score of 364, never did the skipper think to settle for a draw. He scored a sparkling 141 in the chase and even after he fell when the team was some 50 runs short to the target, he encouraged the others to go for the kill. India could perhaps have pulled the shutters down but the captain wanted to go for a win at all costs. In attempt of doing so India eventually ended up losing the match, but Kohli’s positive approach won the hearts. We could see what was coming up. And that’s the same attitude which has streamed Team India to their longest undefeated streak in Tests – 18 unbeaten games on trot.

The next thing to catch the eyes has been the spot on team selection. Kohli loves playing with 5 bowlers but often we get to see shuffles within the bowling line up. He doesn’t believe on a particular combination, rather he relies on the horses for courses approach. Whenever there is a seaming track he picks Bhuvneshwar Kumar, otherwise he goes for Umesh Yadav. With the rotation policy he makes sure that everyone in the squad stays fresh and gets significant amount of playtime. He is a great communicator and makes people understand their roles in the team. It was great to see the way he used Parthiv Patel as an attacking option at the top which allowed him to play 5 bowlers, something which enhances the chances of winning more games. At the same time it should also allow Kohli to have Rohit at 6 when the latter returns from injury – another dashing option which the skipper is extremely fond of.

Granted that most of India’s success have come playing at their own backyard on turning tracks, so there are bound to be some lapses when they travel abroad. But one thing is for sure, slowly but surely Team India has started to stand upon the positive mindset of its captain. For the last 3 months or so they have been absolutely clinical with their approach. Throughout the year they have meant business that they won’t be satisfied with anything less than victory and they won’t be intimidated by any opponent. As it stands, thus far in the post-Dhoni era Team India have certainly come off with flying colors running riot over every opponent. Now all eyes will be on them to see how they can sustain this incredible run. But the way they are oozing confidence right now, it seems like Virat Kohli is moulding the future of this team to one of its most dazzling phases ever.

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