An ideal player-leader combo!

Technically, Virat Kohli is sound as a batsman and it’s rare that you get to see technical soundness and strokes along with solid temperament. It’s a near perfect marriage that he brings to his batting. And, as a leader, how he has stood up for his players is an example of his growing maturity.

Virat Kohli has managed both his batting and captaincy responsibilities admirably.   -  PTI

Virat Kohli is taking giant strides in becoming not only one of the best ever batsmen in the game but also one of the best captains the game has seen. His batting in all formats of the game is distinguished by its simplicity which allows him to score at will.

Most importantly, it is temperament which separates the men from the boys and the great from the good. His ability to suss a situation and bat accordingly is what makes Kohli such a fine player. His competitive instincts mean that he rises to the occasion in a challenging situation, invariably bringing his ‘A’ game to the arena and taking his team to a good score. Technically, he is sound and it’s rare that you get to see technical soundness and strokes along with solid temperament. It’s a near perfect marriage that he brings to his batting. Near perfect because there has been no player, however great he may have been, who is absolutely perfect though Sir Don, Sir Garry and Sachin came nearest to it.

What has also been impressive is Kohli’s ability to learn from mistakes and avoid them thereafter. There are only so many ways that a batsman can be out and there will be days when a bowler will be on top, but preparation, both physical and mental, is the key and Kohli has it.

As a leader how he has stood up for his players is another example of his growing maturity and it’s no wonder that players are prepared to jump off a cliff if he asks them to do so. That is perhaps the greatest tribute a captain can get, that his players have so much faith in him and will do anything for him knowing that he wants only the best for them and thereby the team.

His recent statements defending his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni are a case in point. In a team game it’s impossible for all 11 players to succeed. There will be the odd failure. Typically in India, when a player is in his 30s, the failures are highlighted more than the failures of those under 30 in the same game. So Dhoni was in for a bit of stick when he was not able to score at the rate which the team needed. However, those who failed earlier in the same match were not even mentioned as if their failures were not significant.

Age, of course, waits for no man and we all have to face its vagaries. In cricket it is even more so especially in the case of fast bowlers who suddenly are not able to hurl the ball as fast in their 30s as they could in their 20s.

The great bowlers then would have imbibed intelligence to make up for the loss of pace and can still get wickets. In batting, a player in his 30s may not be able to run between the wickets as fast as he could in his 20s, so the extra run may not be taken.

Dhoni still runs as fast as he did in his 20s and, if anything, is a much more fit cricketer than he was when he was playing all three formats of the game. He may not have had the time to train as much then because of the packed schedule the Indian team generally has. But now that he is not playing Test and other first class cricket, he gets the time to train a lot more and this shows in his running between the wickets.

Kohli has done well to defend his predecessor as he realises the worth of having him in the team. Dhoni’s counsel helps Kohli and the skipper leans on him a fair bit especially during crunch moments.

Besides, he is aware that Dhoni deserves respect from cricketers even if the non-cricketers have little or no idea as to what it means to be playing for the country. He knows that just like Dhoni stepped aside when he had had enough of the leadership, he will do the same about playing.

Till then Kohli knows that Dhoni is invaluable to the team not just on the field, but off it too, especially in the dressing room.

India is blessed to have Kohli as its cricket captain and he knows he is fortunate to have Dhoni there to help him become India’s greatest ever captain.