Virat Kohli is one of the best leaders in World cricket. He has had a lot of success while leading the Indian team in all the three formats over the past few years. In this time, India has climbed to the No. 1 ranking in Tests and they have also been at their dominating best in the ODI and T20I format.
However, everyone makes mistakes. And in case of Kohli, there have been a few mistakes which have cost India heavily. Some of his decision on the field or selection choices have baffled the experts and made them question him. There have been times when his credentials as a captain have been questioned as well.
Here we bring you five blunders from Virat Kohli as captain:
1. Sending MS Dhoni at No.7 in the World Cup semi-final
Through the World Cup, Kohli had made a few decisions which were debatable. Going into the semi-final, India were looking quite solid in front of the New Zealand team. Having finished at the top of the points table in the league stages, the Men in Blue were expected to make to the final with ease. However, that didn’t happen.
India were set a total of 240 to win. For a batting heavy team like them, that shouldn’t have been a problem. But losing the top three didn’t help. Kohli and Rohit Sharma were the first ones to get out and KL Rahul soon followed them. India were 5 for 3 and under enormous pressure. India sent in Rishabh Pant at number four and Dinesh Karthik at 5 when many expected MS Dhoni to walk out in crisis times.
Though Pant was given the position of no.4, Karthik was the designated finisher for the side. Even after the latter got out, leaving India at 24 for 4, Dhoni wasn’t sent in. Hardik Pandya batted ahead of the man who was playing his 350th ODI. India went on to lose the match by 18 runs. After the match, many experts criticised Kohli’s decision to hold back Dhoni when clearly, he should’ve batted up the order and stabilise the innings.
2. Playing two spinners in Lords’ Test
During India’s tour of England 2018, Kuldeep Yadav had caused havoc in the England dressing room. Batsmen were failing to pick him and the chinaman became an instant threat. He picked up five wickets in T20I and then picked up a six-wicket haul in an ODI. On both these occasions, Kuldeep turned out to be the trump card for the Indian captain.
So, when the Test series started, Kohli was expected to use Kuldeep in at least one Test, but the question was on which track. With Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the side, playing Kuldeep would clearly mean dropping either of the experienced players or simply having only one spinner in Kuldeep.
In the first Test, Ashwin was the lone spinner, but Kohli hinted at a slight change for the second Test. Traditionally, the wicket at Lord’s doesn’t offer much to the spinners. And the one laid on for the second Test between India and England wasn’t going offer anything either.
On a green pitch, India decided to have two spinners, Kuldeep and Ashwin. He chose two pacers in Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami. The third pacer in the side for this match was Hardik Pandya. England, on the other hand, had Adil Rashid but didn’t use him as it was quite evident that the ball was swinging a lot. Kohli’s strategy fell flat and India lost the match by an innings and 159 runs with Kuldeep not making any kind of impact.
3. Playing Rishabh Pant as a keeper in New Zealand Tests
This one happened quite recently. Going into the Test series in New Zealand in 2020, India had packed their side with two wicket-keepers, Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant. Saha was the keeper of choice for the Indian captain during the home season. The Bengal keeper played all the five matches and performed exceeding well with the gloves. He also made some contributions with the bat as India won all those five matches. So, it was expected that Saha will continue to hold his place in the side.
However, Virat Kohli shocked everyone when he opted for Rishabh Pant in the first Test against New Zealand. Pant’s keeping skills have been questioned a lot while Saha is a world-class keeper who seldom puts a foot wrong as the keeper. The decision didn’t go down well with many experts, who criticised Kohli. And yes, the reason Pant played was his batting ability.
The southpaw has two Test centuries, one in England and one in Australia. In fact, no other keeper has scored centuries in those countries in Indian cricket history. However, the decision didn’t work as Pant hardly got any runs in the Two tests. The Delhi player’s keeping skills were also put under the scanner once again. India lost both the Tests badly on the tour.
4. Opting to bowl first in Champions Trophy final 2017
There is a certain hype around an India vs Pakistan game. But the ICC Champions Trophy final of 2017 was something else. India had beaten Pakistan by 124 runs (on DLS) in their opening match of the tournament. However, Pakistan recovered well. They won their next three matches to enter the final with a solid bowling attack. But, India was the stronger team and were almost favourites to lift the trophy.
The two teams were playing at the Oval Cricket Ground in London. Virat Kohli won the toss and surprisingly decided to bowl first. Normally, any captain who wins the toss in a big final chooses to bat. Having a score on the board would always put the opponent team under pressure. Kohli thought otherwise and the plan didn’t work.
India conceded 338 runs bowling first. Later on, when they came on to bat, the scoreboard pressure got to the Indian players. They fell short and that too miserably. Kohli and co. lost the match by 180 runs as it was one of the biggest anti-climax in the history of World events in cricket.
5. Not having a fixed no.4 in ODIs
After Yuvraj Singh was dropped from the ODI squad post the Champions Trophy 2017, the main question was who was going to take charge of the middle order. The no.4 spot in the ODI had been up for grabs for a long time. When Kohli was made the ODI captain, it was expected that the team will find someone who can bat at the position and continue with him until the World Cup.
However, Virat Kohli had other plans. For almost every series, his choice for the no.4 spot kept changing. Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya, everyone was tried but none of them got a longer run. The longest run was given to Rayudu, but he was dropped before the World Cup.
The lack of stability caused in the middle order was clearly because the team didn’t have a designated batsman for the No. 4 spot for long. The result of which was clearly seen in the World Cup 2019. Pretty much anyone batted at the no. 4. However, after the World Cup in the subsequent series, it seems India has finally found a proper no. 4 in Shreyas Iyer.
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