Sydney: The comparisons will be inevitable but former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly today said it isunfair to equate the leadership skills of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and newly-appointed Test captain Virat Kohli, who will only become better with experience.
“There will be a strong urge compare Kohli and Dhoni. I don’t think the two can be compared and it would be unfair to do so as well,” Ganguly said.
“Kohli has got the job now and it is his for the near foreseeable future. He has got has got all the attributes for leadership and I think he will do well because he is aggressive and wants to win all the time. He will lead with passion and it will show on the field. And he will get better with experience and grow into this role.”
Kohli took over the Test captaincy after Dhoni retired midway through the series against Australia which India eventually lost 0-2.
Ganguly said Kohli was impressive in his short captaincy stint. Kohli led India in the first Test in Adelaide as Dhoni was out injured and then again in the fourth Test in Sydney after the latter took a shock retirement after the third Test in Melbourne.
India lost the series but they competed aggressively in three out of the four Tests and could have registered wins in at least two of them if they had latched on to pivotal moments.
Kohli himself shrugged off his failure in England and scored four hundreds during this series, accumulating 692 runs, a record for an Indian batsman against Australia in any one encounter.
The problem for India throughout the series was the simple fact that their bowling was too inconsistent.
“Length and line bowling is a basic at this international level and is very important. Look at what Josh Hazlewood did on the fifth day. He bowled 8 overs for just 3 runs. He kept bowling one line and length and that’s just basic bowling,” said Ganguly.
“Indian bowlers simply have to find a way to do it. The talent is there. They are consistently bowling at 140-plus and you cannot be ordinary bowlers if you keep bowling at that speed. But discipline in Test cricket is always important and a key factor. Hopefully someone will be around to tell them that and they will learn it from this tour,” he added.
When asked if the Indian team is lacking in proper coaching staff, Ganguly replied, “It is important to have the right people around in terms of helping out these young boys because they are young and raw. They will have to work with them and it will not happen overnight. But it is not rocket science either so they will have to keep working on getting the consistency part right.”
Perhaps R Ashwin was the only stand-out bowler during the last two Tests, bowling with control and discipline in both Melbourne and Sydney.
He picked up 12 wickets in three Tests played this series — 10 of those in the last two Tests — but missed support from the other end. Even so, Ganguly seemed unimpressed by the spinner’s showing.
“Ashwin has got to bowl a lot better especially when it matters later in the Tests. He has been around for a while and now he is an experienced bowler. His lines have to get a lot better especially in overseas conditions. He has to keep bowling a lot outside the off stump and reduce variations even more,” said the cricketer-turned-commentator.
With the Test series done, focus now turns towards the ODI leg of the tour with the Indian team playing a tri-series against Australia and England starting in Melbourne on January 16. Thereafter India will be defending their champions’ crown in the World Cup starting February 14.
“It has been a long tour already. The players need to keep themselves fresh. The selectors have done a good job with the World Cup squad and it is quite balanced. Not to mention, Dhoni will be back and he is a terrific one-day player. I am sure he will prove to be a huge force in the coming months,” Ganguly signed off.