With Virat Kohli opting not out of the last three Tests on the tour of Australia, there has been lots of chatter about the Indian team not being as strong without their skipper. However, historically, team India has done well without Kohli and are likely to do on the upcoming tour as well.
Since the BCCI gave permission to Indian skipper Virat Kohli to miss all the Tests against Australia except the opener at Adelaide, the whole cricketing fraternity has gone into a frenzy. While some people are not happy with Kohli’s decision to leave the tour incomplete, others have shown their support and praised Kohli for giving the priority to his family. But one thing on which both the groups agree upon is that the absence of Kohli will likely result in a weaker Indian team, making Australia favourites to win the series at their home.
While it is true that the Indian skipper will be missed and it would be hard for the Indian team to fill up his shoes, it would be stupid to rule out a Kohli-less India against Australia. It will not be the first time that the Indian team will be coming onto the field without their regular captain as there have been instances in the past where Kohli has been rested for few matches and to everyone’s surprise, team India has done well without him as well. Take for instance the last Test match against Australia on their tour to India in 2017, where Kohli was ruled out due to a shoulder injury, the Indian team was unfazed by the skipper’s absence as they put a brilliant performance to win the match and with that also grabbed the series 2-1.
Similar was the case with the Nidahas Trophy, where Indian batsmen stepped up to the plate and registered a thumping victory in challenging situations despite missing their main batsman. I mean it would be hard for an Indian cricket fan to forget the match-winning cameo of Dinesh Karthik to win the trophy. Such is the depth of talent in the Indian team that one of the batsmen surely leads the charge in India’s victory, proving that India is not overdependent on their skipper.
In the current team as well, team India’s batting lineup is filled with players, who are more than enough to register a series victory in Australia. India has in-form Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul to start off the proceedings followed by solid Cheteshwar Pujara, who already has displayed his amazing temperament on the last tour Down Under. Next in line would be Hanuma Vihari, who has become a Test specialist and is excelling at it, and Ajinkya Rahane, who has done well away from home. They also have Rohit Sharma, who has done well in his return to Test cricket, along with Wriddhiman Saha, who has the tendency to play useful innings every now and then. To add to that, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin can bat as well. Any cricketing nation would love such a batting lineup.
Some questions have also arisen regarding the leadership vacuum that will be created with Kohli’s absence. Well, it is quite natural to be concerned about the leadership department, even more so when the leader is someone like Kohli, who has revolutionized cricket in India. But Ajinkya Rahane, who will be donning the captain’s hat in the last three Tests, is no rookie at the position. He does not have the aggression that Kohli has, in fact, he is almost opposite to the traits that Kohli displays as a captain, but he is certainly effective in his approach.
The best part about the captaincy of Rahane is that he does not try to imitate the approach of his regular captain and brings in a completely different dimension to the position. Unlike Kohli, he is passive-aggressive, does not let his emotions get the best of him, and always is in control of himself. Although he does not look for any confrontation from the opposition team, when he is faced with one, he does not back away from the challenge and gives a reply with his bat rather than words. Also, given that Rahane has been a regular in the longest format of the game, he is well aware of the situations and intricacies that need to be taken care of, answering all the questions surrounding the leadership position quite aptly.
Taking all that into consideration, it does not makes any sense to hype Kohli’s absence from the last three Tests, after all he will be playing 7 out of 10 matches on the tour. Then why so much noise? If we look at it closely, the only people benefitting from all these talks are the broadcasters and the Australian team. It is no secret that Cricket Australia has been struggling financially and India team (read: Virat Kohli) coming onto their shore would have helped their cause. It has been difficult for them to get the eyeballs in their matches and Kohli, being the superstar he is, would have attracted lots of them. This would have resulted in good revenue for the broadcasters, who have been annoyed with CA, to say the least, with their management.
Obviously, now that it was not in the hands of the broadcasters and CA to make Kohli play, they resorted to hyping his absence to get as many eyeballs as they can get for the matches he will be available for. So much so that Fox Sports have started running a Virat Kohli special series as the build-up to the Test series in the Australian shore. So, it is not that big of a deal that the Indian skipper will not play the last three Tests. How about letting the man have the privilege of being there for the birth of his first baby?