Dubai: Virat Kohli’s batting was affected by his emotional outbursts in the acrimonious Test series against Australia, feels former captain Sourav Ganguly, who is hoping that the Indian skipper “cools down” to score big again.
Ganguly observed that Kohli’s desire to win at any cost as a captain led to his outbursts.
“Against Australia, probably he (Kohli) was so consumed by wanting to win as captain that he let his emotions affect his batting. This will also serve as a lesson for Virat. He’s such a precocious talent, I hope he cools down and gets back to scoring big again,” Ganguly wrote in an exclusive column for the ‘ICC’ website.
India got the better of Australia 2-1 at home in one of the most intense and bitterly-fought series in recent years.
The contest was marred by one controversy after another with the two captains — Kohli and Steve Smith — continuously being in the eye of a storm.
Kohli was in sublime form before this series, becoming the only man to slam double hundreds in four consecutive series. The 28-year-old amassed 1457 runs in 13 matches this season.
But he had a horrendous outing with the bat in the series against Tests against Australia, totalling just 46 runs in five innings with scores of 0, 13, 12, 15 and 6 in three games. He had to sit out of the fourth and final Test because of a shoulder injury.
Ganguly, regarded as one of India’s most successful captains, rated Kohli as among of the finest in the world while describing him as a passionate skipper.
“There are two Virats for me. The batsman and the captain.
“The batsman surely is one of the best in the world because he has set high standards for himself, both in terms of fitness and the hunger to score big. The captain is more passionate and more of a leader than anything else,” Ganguly wrote.
“He wants to win and win every day and while it may not be possible always, I see Virat not settling for anything that isn’t No.1.”
The former India skipper also shared his delight at watching KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav gain in confidence and match Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin. He tipped Cheteshwar Pujara as the batsman who will be most critical to India’s successes abroad.
“More than the results, I enjoyed the journey, watching how players like KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav gained in confidence and matched the two champions, Virat and Ravichandran Ashwin,” Ganguly wrote.
“But the one who stood out was Cheteshwar Pujara. I remember when he was dropped for a Test in West Indies last year, I had said Pujara was a special batsman and shouldn’t have been dropped. A small matter of 1,316 runs have come from his bat this season and Pujara will be the most critical for Virat when India start travelling outside of the sub-continent.”
Ganguly said the current Indian team has the potential to win anywhere in the world.
“And having watched the last 13 home Tests, I hope Virat and his team really has the potential to win anywhere – in or outside India,” he said.
Talking about the Dharamsala Test, which according to him was the highlight of the season, Ganguly wrote: “I was sitting at home around lunchtime on Day Three when Australia began its second innings.
“Over the next hour or so, I watched such a great piece of fast and hostile bowling by the two Indians, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The way they got the Australians hopping and succumbing to the pace, I am so pleased for Virat.
“The most memorable win came in conditions actually tailor-made for the Australians more than the Indians. The fact that India beat the Aussies at their own game will surely give another twist to Virat’s captaincy.”
Ganguly also said chief coach Anil Kumble played a big role in India’s success in the home season.
“When the BCCI appointed a three-member panel that had Tendulkar, Laxman and me to help in the process of selecting a coach, Anil’s vision was as decisive as his bowling used to be. He wanted India to win in India obviously, but outside of India too and while he knew it was easier said than done, his assessment of the situation was superb,” he wrote.
“With him, I hope the spinners, who generally always do pick wickets by the bucket loads in India, contribute to the team’s success when they travel abroad, just like Anil and Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) did. That would fit the last riddle in the jigsaw puzzle Virat and his team will hope to solve.”
Ganguly rated Steve Smith’s century in the opening Test in Pune as one of the best he has seen from a visiting batsman.
“Not because India didn’t play well but because Australia’s captain Steve Smith decided to make the transition from a good batsman to a great batsman during this series. The century he scored in Pune ranks amongst one of the best by a visiting batsman in India – and I have seen many,” he wrote.