‘The difference was very little between the two teams’

“It was a well-controlled, aggressive display by the Indians in the recently-concluded Test series against Australia,” feels manager Arshad Ayub.-V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Arshad Ayub, who was the manager of the Indian team during the recently-concluded Test series in Australia, shares his thoughts on the team’s performances. V. V. Subrahmanyam listens in.

Former India off-spinner Arshad Ayub, who was the manager of the Indian team during the recently-concluded Test series in Australia, believes that Virat Kohli will take the team to new heights in the future, not only with his aggressive captaincy but also with his outstanding batting.

“Kohli is great captaincy material. He was very positive with his approach and I am sure the way he is handling the job, he will take India to a different level in the future. Essentially, he is a very honest cricketer and because of that he makes decisions which, he feels, are good to the team. He is a team-man to the core,” he said.

The 56-year-old Arshad said it was fantastic to watch Kohli bat and it was probably the best batting he had seen in a long, long time. “The way he dominated the Australian bowling, it was a treat to watch,” the manager said.

Asked whether Kohli was over-aggressive, Arshad said, “I don’t think so. Everyone has a different way of handling things. And the aggression comes from within. Overall it was a well-controlled, aggressive display by the Indians,” he remarked.

On whether the Indian players walked into the trap of the Aussies, who started sledging early in the series, Arshad stressed it was important to realise who was the perpetrator first. “And if you are at the receiving end, you have to react. I was immensely pleased with the way Kohli handled it on the field,” he said.

Reflecting on the team’s performances, the manager said he was impressed in some sessions. “Frankly, we needed to dominate more sessions to win the Test matches. I think the bowlers needed to be more consistent. But again, most of them have not played more than 20 Tests. They are still learning and with experience, they can be world-beaters,” said the former spinner from Hyderabad, who had played 13 Tests and had taken 41 wickets, from 1987-89.

“Well, you play cricket with a purpose — to win — not to draw the game. Yes, Adelaide was just fine, I would have gone for the kill but Sydney was probably a bit too far away. Till Virat was there we were in the mood but once he got out, we settled for a draw,” Arshad explained.

On the Indian bowling, Arshad felt though Ishant didn’t get many wickets, he bowled really well throughout the series. “Ishant’s performance was not bad. Consistently he was bowling a good line. Johnson also went for 100 runs, Lyon more than 100 four times. Look at the way we batted. We also got runs. The difference was very little between the two teams, one good session and it would have been different,” he said.

“I am quite happy with Ashwin’s performance in the three matches he played. He learnt very quickly and I feel he gave his best. Ajinkya (Rahane) and Vijay (Murali) displayed amazing technique. Lokesh Rahul impressed in the last match. He’s the future. Ravi (Shastri) spoke to him. Ravi is a great influence on the team. The way he talks to each individual is terrific. Our coaches Bharat Arun and Sanjay Bangar are doing a great job,” Arshad felt.

On Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement from Tests, Arshad said it came as a shock. “But having known Dhoni as a mature cricketer over the years, one who doesn’t take hasty decisions, we (the players and the support staff) understood his reasoning, and took it in our stride. We respected his decision. Dhoni’s reasoning was that he should focus more on the shorter version. I don’t think it was a decision in haste and there were no issues at all,” he added.

Arshad, who was happy that it was an incident-free tour for him, felt that the result of the Test series would have no bearing on India’s chances in the World Cup. “I still believe we are a very good one-day side and good enough to retain the Cup,” he concluded.