Captaincy is one vocation which involves high risks and high rewards. As a Captain, one follows his instincts. If they come off, the captain is given a pat on the back. At the same time, if he fails to lead the team to the desired result, he is also held accountable for the team’s failure.
Virat Kohli has been in the firing line of critics as of late for his surprising decisions. With the team losing, it is only obvious for a few more fingers to be raised at him in the times to come.
Let’s have a look at 4 decisions taken by Virat in the 2nd India-South Africa Test that defy rationality.
Mohammed Shami was by far India’s best bowler on Day 4. He came in to bowl first change. After conceding two boundaries in his first over, Shami bounced back to take three wickets in his extended spell of seven overs.
However, he got only two overs after this throughout the day in which he knocked out one more South African wicket. One can understand that he would have been tired in the first hour after Lunch. But after that, he could have been certainly given a go.
“There are some stages in front of you that you want to bowl more but the Captain thinks that we should get them out quickly. So you cannot mind that but yes sometimes you do feel inside that maybe I could have got five wickets,” said Shami at the end of Day 4 trying to conceal the sorrow of missing a five-wicket haul.
On the morning of Day 4, South Africa came out to bat at 90-2 as India searched for quick wickets. To everyone’s surprise, Virat opened the bowling with Ishant and Bumrah. While Bumrah was an automatic choice on a wicket with uneven bounce, either of Ashwin or Shami was expected to partner him. Ishant failed to break through in his opening spell and gave an opportunity to AB De Villiers and Dean Elgar to consolidate their partnership.
Although Shami often blows hot and cold, he causes the ball to seam off the surface at pace. Ashwin to could have made better use of the hard new ball. Ishant is on the team more as a bowler who can contain the batsmen by bowling tight line and lengths. If Virat preferred to control run scoring over a wicket-taking option, it is surely a negative tactic.
With India three-down in the final innings of the 2nd Test, Parthiv Patel was sent out to bat at no. 5 ahead of Rohit Sharma. There are three possible reasons for this decision. Virat wanted:
1) the left-right combination to keep going.
2) to shield Rohit Sharma as only a few overs were left before the close of day’s play.
3) a left-hander on the crease as the pitching areas for him were less hostile, as compared to the rough patch that had developed outside the right hander’s off stump.
In each of these cases, cricketing logic says that a better batsman must have been sent in to bat. And who is the better batsman between Rohit and Patel? Your guess is as good as mine!
In the 1st Test in Cape Town, two players stood out for India: Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Bhuvneshwar was not only the best Indian bowler but also the one to face most deliveries among Indian batsmen. It was his three wickets in his first six overs that turned out to be the best phase of the match for team India.
What signal do you give to a hard working bowler by sidelining him after his stellar performance in the first match? It not only scarred Bhuvi’s confidence but sent out a message to the entire team – no matter how well you perform, your place is not certain on the side.
Those who have played the sport at any level would tell you that how drastic the difference is in a player’s output, when he is assured of his Captain’s backing compared to when he is playing every match with uncertainty about his place in the side.