Why India need both Virat Kohli AND Anil Kumble

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Why India need both Virat Kohli AND Anil Kumble

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Rohit George


Although Virat Kohli is set to get his way in the so-called rift between him and Anil Kumble, from an Indian fan's perspective one would hope that the duo can make peace between themselves. Truth be told, both Kohli and Kumble have been indispensable to India's success in the last one year.

Indian fans have always yearned for an Indian coach for their national cricket side. And a lot of this is based on the belief that an Indian coach would understand the Indian players better. Even when India managed to lift the world cup at home in 2011 after a gap of 28 years, the fact that an Indian coach wasn’t at the helm at that point of time, took some of the sheen of the win for some fans. After much thought, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) comprising of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman appointed Anil Kumble as the coach of the Indian side in 2016.

What Kumble has brought to the team:

The appointment of Kumble finally gave Indian cricket something they had always craved, an insider who was familiar with the workings of a team and who could also bridge the so-called ‘cultural gap’ between the players and the coach. Further, while there may have been a few doubts over Kumble’s credentials prior to his appointment, particularly about his lack of credible coaching experience, Kumble has hardly set a foot wrong since taking charge. India have always been one of the better cricketing nations, but what Kumble's coaching tenure has brought to the side so far, is a kind of ruthlessness to their performances. Never before has an Indian side so comprehensively outclassed their opponents, as they have done in the last one year. India’s home series wins against England, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Australia have all been commendable, but a closer look at the results, reveal the contributions of both Kohli and Kumble to the cause.

In the series against New Zealand for instance, Amit Mishra was a revelation with the ball in the ODI series, despite missing the preceding Test series. More importantly, he was rightly awarded the Man of the Series for his efforts, and upon achieving the feat, Mishra acknowledged Kumble’s role in the post-match press conference saying, "His (Anil Kumble) mental support is the biggest thing for me. I sat out for the entire Test series but he supported me mentally and told me ‘don't worry, your time will come’."

Mishra’s success against New Zealand is a testament to Kumble’s man-management skills as well as his coaching methods. More importantly, such an incident makes recent reports that certain members of the Indian team are having problems with Kumble’s coaching methods hard to believe.

Another attribute that Kumble has added to the Indian squad is his emphasis on India’s lower order improving their skills with the bat and Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwinhave benefited the most from these methods. The duo enjoyed a hugely successful spell under Kumble’s stewardship, which was capped off by them taking the no. 2 and 3 spots in the ICC Test all-rounder rankings.

In a way, reports of an alleged rift between Kumble and Kohli do come as a surprise given that the duo have together formed an extremely successful partnership together. As far as Virat Kohli’s contribution to the cause is concerned the biggest difference he has made to the side is in instilling an aggressive winning mentality among his players.

Thanks to Kohli, the Indian players now believe that they can win a match from any given situation even in the absence of Kohli. And this was more evident than ever before when Ajinkya Rahane led India to a 2-1 series victory over Australia in the final Test in Dharamsala in the absence of their best batsman in Kohli. But when Kohli has been on the field, he has led the team from the front and by example, scoring heaps of runs with more than a handful of double-hundreds, barring the series against Australia, when Kohli had an uncharacteristically below-par series.

Why Indian cricket is the biggest loser:

Clearly, there is no denying the fact that both Kumble and Kohli have played integral parts in India’s success over the last one year or so, the so-called rift between the two can simply be seen as a power struggle for credit. And though it seems as if Kohli is set to come out on top in the battle with Kumble nearing the end of his tenure; the ultimate loser will be Indian cricket as it signals a premature end to what actually was a dream partnership between the skipper and the coach.

Especially, given where the Indian team finds themselves at this point of time, Kumble and Kohli not seeing eye-to-eye will be the worst thing that could happen. Not only are India about to begin their Champions Trophy defense against Pakistan on Sunday, India also have important away series’ coming up after this, with visits to South Africa and Australia to come before the year goes out, Kohli and Kumble have a chance to write their names in the history books of Indian cricket and World Cricket. And if we appoint a new coach at this time, not only will it be a step backward, it will also undo all the good work that the duo have done so far.

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