The writing was on the wall and at last the inevitable happened at Christchurch. India lost the second and final Test match at the Hagley Oval by 7 wickets. The hope of a fightback from the Indian tail was a long shot by all measures but we Indians are an optimistic bunch. Unfortunately, the tail could only muster 34 runs on top of overnight score of 90 for 6 and folded soon in the first session. Set a meagre target of 132 to chase, the Kiwis got off to a flyer and were well on their way to romp to another 10 wicket win but Indian quicks skittled three wickets and the misery was somewhat limited. Virat Kohli, the Indian Skipper who looked a shadow of the class batsmen he is throughout the series spanning the limited over matches and now Test matches even lost his cool in the press conference after the loss.
At the presser a reporter asked Kohli “What’s your reaction to your behaviour on the field, swearing at Williamson when he got out, swearing at the crowd. As an Indian captain, don’t you think you should set a better example on the field?” But the skipper, who was visibly perturbed by the question hit back by saying that he shouldn’t be asking questions without knowing the exact details of the incidents which took place on the field during the match. It is not the first time when Kohli’s demeanour has put him in a spot of bother. From a brash young U-19 World cup winner to India’s test team captain, Kohli had his fair share of anger issues.
His infamous presser after losing the test series in England two years back is another example where Kohli let the emotions get better of him.
Kohli after being put under the pump by Kiwi openers in the first innings on Day-2 was elated when wickets started coming his way. In the proceedings, he started giving angry send-offs and on one occasion, was even caught on camera swearing at the crowd. The videos of the incident went viral on social media. Some might say it is wearing your heart on the sleeve but it surely did not look like it. Cricket, after all, is a gentleman’s game and no doubt you want to play hard for your country, but the thin line should be managed by the skipper, who has been at the helm of affairs for four years now.
Kohli’s body language has taken a serious beating this series. It looked as if he was trying to overcompensate for everything and that became the fallout of “Kohli-the batsmen”. The demons of the 2014-15 tour of England must have been running inside Kohli’s mind too. His remarks after losing the ODI series 3-0 against the hosts were also not received well. He had remarked, “ODIs aren’t too relevant this year compared to Tests and T20s”. His comments certainly did not go down well with legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar who criticised the Captain fair and square for his remarks. “By all means try and lift the spirits of your team after a loss, but please don’t call any game that you play for India irrelevant,” said Gavaskar.
The drubbing inflicted by the superior team of New Zealand could also be the reason for Kohli’s outburst in the presser. The kiwis thoroughly outplayed Indians in every other department. The bowlers were relentless and executed their game-plans beautifully. Southee and Boult proved how big of a match-winner they are whereas Wagner, like always toiled by pitching in the short stuff. De Grandhomme blossomed in his home conditions and Jamieson just like Sam Curran of England dented India’s chances with both bat and ball. The red cherry on the green grass top exposed the Indian batsmen and by no means should the horrors of this series be swept under the carpet with IPL coming up in less than a month.
The continuous tactical mistakes of horrid team selection has hurt India’s fortunes in the SENA countries big time. Despite having a fiery arsenal of pace bowling which seems to get through the top order and middle order every time but struggles to polish off the tail is another enigma that no one is able to decode. The team has a lot to ponder and the team management needs to get their act straight too. Surely, Virat is a human and he is bound to have such outbursts, but it should not affect the team and his performance. With the T20 world cup around the corner, and another down under tour later this year, the skipper is needed in his purple patch, both on and off the field.