Focus story- How is Indian test cricket transforming after MS Dhoni retirement?

M.S.Dhoni dropped a bombshell when he announced on December 30 2014 that he will no longer represent India in Test cricket. Though his retirement was imminent, it came as a surprise because he announced his retirement mid-way through the series against Australia which India had already lost the 4 match series with still one match in hand.

Australia had outplayed India in all 3 tests which was one of the many reasons why Dhoni took the decision to call it a day. Nevertheless, media went in to frenzy mode speculating whether Virat Kohli was really ready to lead the side.

Virat Kohli, since the very beginning of his career, has been a cricketer with plenty of talent but also has been criticized for his rather rash and aggressive decisions which prevented him in getting big scores. It is interesting to note that though he was hugely successful in ODI cricket, he couldn’t replicate that success in the longer format of the game.

Indian batting order had undergone a drastic change after the retirement of stalwarts like Ganguly, Sachin, Dravid and Laxman and there was a huge void left in the batting order.  Virat was drafted in to the test side courtesy his scintillating ODI form, but initially he failed a lot in test matches, which the coaches and experts attributed to his temperament.  He made his test debut in 2011 against the West India in Kingston falling cheaply in both innings.  He couldn’t make any impact as such in the entire series.

But everyone knew he had a potential to make it big. Kohli, made a telling impact in the subsequent test matches with his consistent performances with an average of above 50. In no time he became a regular in the playing eleven in test team. He first got a chance to lead India in the first match during the tour of Australia in 2014-2015, but sadly the team lost. He was appointed full-time captain of the test side after Dhoni’s retirement and in his first match as a full-time captain, Kohli dug in and rallied the depleted and demoralized Indian team to a morale boosting draw against the mighty Aussies.

A prominent person once famously said “A team follows a leader who leads by setting an example”. Kohli is exactly that kind of leader. He is no stranger to captaining sides as he had previously led the under-19 team to Under-19 world cup victory and has managed to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore to multiple appearances in the IPL top-4.

Additionally, in the short span of time as test captain-14 matches to be precise, Kohli has managed to steer India to victories in 7 matches with just 2 losses. Under Kohli, team India has become a rejuvenated side and the youngsters coming in to the team look up to Kohli. Virat Kohli has actually captained better than many expected as he combined the temperament of Dhoni and the aggressiveness of Saurav Ganguly and that is the reason for Indian team performing so well under him.

He has developed an calm demeanor overtime and Kohli doesn’t hesitate to shuffle with the batting and bowling order, thus often keeping the opponents in rather uncertain mindset. The bowlers have often expressed their happiness to Kohli’s captaincy for the way he trusts them and sets an aggressive field even when the bowlers are getting hammered thus often getting the best out of his bowlers. He also likes to lead by an example and has firmness and self-belief in him which makes him so effective.

He has understood that it is more important to manage a team rather than displaying ego and arrogance .Most importantly he has softened from his previous brash attitude and that has worked wonders for Indian cricket and particularly for him. He is currently amongst the best players in the world right now and Indian team looks up to him. He has brought in a sense of accountability and has all the necessary attributes in him to make India number one ranked test nation in the world again.

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