Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has said that is only to be expected that “questions will be asked” about Virat Kohli’s captaincy after India’s series loss in England.
While Kohli has laid to rest his demons from India's previous Test series in England by amassing over 500 runs, his decision making as captain hasn’t met with the approval of several former players, and Gavaskar has become only the latest to join the chorus.
While lauding his efforts with the bat, Gavaskar pointed that with the series loss in South Africa earlier in the year, India’s record outside the sub-continent continues to be mediocre.
“When Virat took over captaincy, everybody thought that it will be a completely different way because you had MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) who was cool, calm and collected and here was somebody who was very passionate,” he told India Today. “Not that being calm, cool and collected means that you are not passionate about winning but here was a person who had a completely different approach and outlook to the game.
“Everyone thought that he will bring in a lot more energy into the team. The earlier results were certainly encouraging. But then we all knew that the real test is going to be South Africa in South Africa, England in England and in Australia later this year. Yes, I think that the result overseas and outside the sub-continent - if you leave the West Indies and Zimbabwe aside - certainly not have been as per expectations. So quite expectedly there will be questions asked about his captaincy.
“As far as his batting is concerned, he has been absolutely terrific. Not many captains have scored over 500 runs in a series and still ended up on the losing side. Individually he has done absolutely superbly. Unfortunately, he hasn't had the kind of back-up that would've enabled him to win this Test series.”
Another player facing the brunt of severe criticism in the wake of India’s loss is spinner R Ashwin. While his counterpart Moeen Ali picked up a match haul of nine wickets at Southampton, Ashwin failed to get the same amount of purchase from the surface and managed just three wickets in the Test.
Harbhajan Singh, who is in England doing commentary duties for the ongoing Test series, was critical of his fellow off-spinner’s performances, saying he failed to pick wickets when it ‘mattered the most’.
“There was so much help available on this wicket for the off-spinners. Just landing the ball at that particular rough patch would have fetched a lot of wickets,” said Harbhajan. “That is exactly what Moeen Ali did and got so many wickets.
“India lost the match where Moeen Ali bowled better than R Ashwin. For the first time, I saw England spinners bowling better than our spinners. Him (Ashwin) not being able to take wickets is the reason why we are 1-3 behind in the series.
“Ashwin is a great bowler and has achieved so much for India. But he failed to take wickets when it mattered the most that is on Day 3. Had he taken just two or three wickets, not even a five-wicket haul, then India would have been chasing a target of 160-170 runs for victory which was very much achievable.”
Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin pointed to the deficiencies in the techniques of the Indian batsmen and questioned the role of the support staff in preparing the team for the challenge of English conditions.
“Technically, our batsmen were found wanting,” Azharuddin said in an interview with the Times of India. “We didn’t play the moving ball well. We can’t depend only on Virat Kohli. Openers like Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul too didn’t get runs. The middle-order was left with too much to do. We should have taken at least a 100-run lead after Cheteshwar Pujara’s hundred (in the first innings of the fourth Test).
“We could have done better. This was our best chance to win the series because we had the best bowling attack and in every game, they got those 20 wickets and gave our team a chance to throttle the opposition.”
(With inputs from agencies)
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