Have India lacked spark without captain Virat?
Drooping shoulders. Not being on the ball. Waiting for things to happen. These are things one did not associate with the Indian team when Virat Kohli was the captain. In the last two ODIs against South Africa, however, commentators and cricketing pundits have not been impressed by either the Indian team’s body language or their tactics.
Sunil Gavaskar, while commentating, said, “(KL) Rahul has looked clueless when a partnership has been there. It seems he has run out of ideas.” Former South African allrounder, Shaun Pollock said, “Indian players are waiting for things to happen, rather than make something happen.”
Another ex-Proteas team member and now a commentator, Vernon Philander, said, “The shoulders of the Indian players are drooping and it seems they are going through the motions. No one is pushing them that extra in order to get back into the game.”
That extra push used to come from ‘Captain Virat’, who was always high on energy and transmitted that to his team members on the field. The ‘Player Virat’ so far hasn’t found the energy levels of ‘Captain Virat’. Most of the times, he has seemed to be detached. Even when a review is being taken, Virat hasn’t been seen giving his inputs.
Image credit: ANI
“You get to know what’s going on inside a cricketer’s heart by judging their body language,” former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar said. What Virat’s state of mind is at present is something only he will know. But impassive Kohli isn’t helping the cause.
The second factor behind India lacking spark in the two ODIs has been the incumbent skipper’s demeanour. The captain’s attitude rubs off on the team and the players often look towards their leader for inspiration. Rahul being “clueless,” in Gavaskar’s words, has also not helped.
“Captaincy gives you the freedom, the responsibility should not bog you down. (Rahul) as a leader is a work in progress,” opined Gautam Gambhir.
Virat Kohli (PTI Photo)
Another likely reason for the Indian team’s perceivable lack of intensity is the unforgiving world of bio-bubbles in these Covid times. Several members of the side have been in the ‘bubble life’ for a greater part of the last two years and that has taken a toll.
As Rahul pointed out in the post-match presentation after the second ODI, “It (playing cricket while being in bio-bubbles) is challenging. Very challenging. I am not saying we don’t love challenges, but it has been tough on the body, this staying constantly in bio-bubbles.”
India’s next assignment is against the West Indies at home, as the Men in Blue take on the boys from Caribbean in three ODIs and a similar number of T20Is. In all probability, Rohit Sharma will be the captain in that series. It’ll be interesting to see the intrinsic character of the Indian team as well as Virat Kohli, the player.