Free Press Journal

Cricket in rain and Kohli’s loud thinking


Virat Kohli

What is the point of planning tours in the subcontinent in the rainy season? The tour to Bangladesh is ill-timed. The Test was a washout and it is to be seen whether the three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) could be salvaged. Despite their past experience of cooling their heels with the rain pouring down, the Indians will again be going to Sri Lanka in August for a three-Test series.

These tours are part of Future Tours Programme (FTP) agreed upon by the member countries of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and they have to be gone through the mindless scheduling. Left to captains and players they may plan it out better.

But captains are careful while speaking in public, tending to be diplomatic while fielding uncomfortable questions. But these days they refreshingly air their views openly, conveying to their their boards their ideas through media interactions.

India’s skipper Virat Kohli used up more time speaking on various issues, including some contentious ones, than the time he and his team spent out on the field in the one-off Test in Bangladesh.

The dashing young man on his first substantive tour as captain is not one to shy away from fielding questions from the media, even if they don’t fall strictly in his domain.

Soon after the World Cup he chose to freely state in an interview that he preferred Ravi Shastri to continue as team director and the website ran it a day before the Indian cricket board made the choice, thus embarrassing all parties concerned.

Kohli went a step ahead of his predecessors on the question of the umpires Review Decision System (DRS) saying he is willing to discuss the issues in a broad frame work.

He has also talked of a reserve day to give a team the opportunity to force a victory if rain interferes with a Test match, like it did in their match against Bangladesh.

Disappointed at not being able to win his first Test outside India, Kohli came up with a suggestion that is not easy to implement unless there is universal approval from all Test-playing countries.

Kohli’s contention is that if ODIs can have a reserve day for rain interruption, why not for Tests. On the face of it, the idea sounds interesting, but what he, perhaps, has not realised is ODIs are money-spinners that foot the Test bills.

Kohli’s logic is worth considering. More than 250 overs were lost to rain interruptions in the Fatullah Test, giving absolutely no chance to the team that dominated the game to win.

This must be an extreme case where three days of play was washed out, but elsewhere in the world Test were decided over three and four days even when a full day’s play was washed out. Probably, the spare day can come into play if more than 180 overs or two days of play is lost in a Test to see if a result could be obtained.

Kohli has his own ideas about team composition. If he has to implement his avowed policy of playing five bowlers, he feels wicketkeeper Widdhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, both of whom have two Test hundreds, will have to contribute with bat on a regular basis. Then the team will have balance to win Tests in three-four days just as other teams do frequently on good tracks.

Kohli realises that the only way the team can win matches both at home and more so overseas by bowling the opposition out twice and the top six batsmen getting runs. He has to plan it all with Shastri as there is no, what he calls the impactful personality of Sachin Tendulkar or Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the dressing room, though his predecessor will be around in the ODIs for some more time.

On the DRS, Mahendra Singh Dhoni went along with the icons in the team to stonewall it as they all felt it was not fool-proof. Kohli is not rigid, he is willing to at least discuss it with both the bowlers and batsmen to see if they could agree to try it out.

He obviously feels if all the teams have accepted the DRS as it is, Indians too should do so, as it eventually evens out in a level-playing field.