Virat Kohli is in a strange space. He has proved himself to be the most successful Test captain for India but the centuries that once made him a contender to chase down Sachin Tendulkar‘s 100-ton mark have dried up. Two years is like an eternity in a cricketer’s life and when a No. 4 doesn’t get a century for that long, there is bound to be some whisper. Even if you are Virat Kohli.
Add to that the run-ins that he had with the BCCI administration of late over his decision to leave T20 captaincy and consequently getting removed as the ODI skipper. Just after Kohli had led India to a memorable Test win at Centurion, the chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma took it upon himself to tell the world that Kohli was apparently not telling the truth about being asked by the Board to rethink his decision to leave T20 captaincy just before the T20 World Cup. The signs are quite clear – Kohli, from being the darling of the Indian cricket administration, has suddenly become the king with a crown of thorns.
In a situation like this, it is mandatory that a player has somebody who can be a calming influence, around him. And there is no better person than coach Rahul Dravid, who can defuse the tension, and lead Kohli in the right direction in the middle of a difficult and career-defining tour.
“I know there’s been a lot of noise on other issues outside the group, even leading up to this particular Test match. But honestly, in terms of keeping the morale high, it’s not been very difficult because it’s been led by the skipper himself,” Dravid produced one of his best forward defences on the eve of the second Test against South Africa.
Kohli came to South Africa after being removed from a position of authority for the first time in his career. Getting stripped of captaincy can be a big blow to the ego of somebody who is used to getting his way in his professional life, but one understands that he has dealt with it very well –at least to the outside world. Be it being back to his old playful self with his teammates to training as hard as he can, Virat has been his best self.
Dravid, too, complimented the captain for the way he has presented himself on the tour so far.
“Virat has been absolutely phenomenal over the last 20 days that we’ve been here –the way he’s trained and the connected with the group…I could not speak more highly of him,” Dravid added.
Dravid didn’t get into the inner turmoil of a superstar when he doesn’t get a century for so long, saying “it happens to probably every cricketer at some point of time”. But what the owner of 36 Test hundreds stressed on was the work that his captain was putting in at the nets. “The big score can happen anytime because he is doing all the right things.”