Throwback to Virat Kohli’s first Test as captain


Modified Jan 20, 2022 6:43 PM IST

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After 60 Test matches Virat Kohli ends a captaincy tenure that dates back to 2014. His tenure started as a stand-in skipper, but the Test ended as one that defines how Kohli builds and leads a team

Virat Kohli began his captaincy debut with two spectacular centuries

Facing an Australian side going through a tough time following the death of Philip Hughes, India was scheduled to take on Australia in Australia after a tough year overseas. Before the Australian tour, India suffered a 3-1 drubbing in England, and an injury to MS Dhoni put him out of the Adelaide Test. In MS Dhoni’s absence, Kohli took over, and the Kohli unofficially began. His first game as skipper began in drastic fashion with Kohli taking some bold decisions. First, he decided to go with Karn Sharma over Ravichandran Ashwin with the notion that a wrist spinner may be a more aggressive option than a finger spinner.

Thanks to centuries from David Warner, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith, Australia piled on 517 runs losing just seven wickets. The Indian pacers were ineffective, straying off their lines and far from the discipline they are displaying today. The pace attack comprised of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav who went on to carry the bowling attack for a large chunk of Virat Kohli’s leadership career. Along with those two, India had Varun Aaron. Karn Sharma too wasn’t very effective, and managed four wickets while going for loads of runs in his only Test. He went at four runs an over in the first innings.

Trailing by a lot, the batters came out, and did a fair job to keep India in the game. Contributions from Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane along with a century from Virat Kohli allowed India to keep Australia’s lead under 100.

The innings also paved the way for a batting line-up which featured regularly in Kohli’s leadership. Leading by 73 runs, Australia came out with a lot of aggression as there was not much time left in the Test. David Warner made his second century of the Test, and India’s bowlers only managed to pick up five wickets in the second innings. Australia declared after securing a 363-run lead, leaving India to get 364 runs on the final day.

With 98 overs to play, Virat Kohli took another decision that defined his leadership. He decided to risk defeat in a bid to win, rather than play for a draw. The loss of Dhawan and Pujara early in the innings bought Kohli to the crease along with Vijay. Murali Vijay was set by then and looked to play as many deliveries as possible. At the other end, Virat Kohli was intent on playing his shots. He took on the likes of Mitchell Johnson with controlled pulls, and the two batters settled into a solid partnership with nice counter-punches. They took the game into the final session, and the target was withing distance.

With 157 to get in the last 37 overs having eight wickets in hand, India managed to make the Australians panic a touch. The final session started with Virat and Vijay continuing their hardwork, but Lyon’s brilliance ended Vijay’s innings at 99. The dismissal lead to a collapse with Rahane falling in the same over, and Rohit Sharma getting dismissed a little later.

Karn Sharma made his debut as Virat Kohli and India expected him to be more aggressive

Despite the loss of wickets, Virat Kohli continued his pursuit, but the task was too much as he eventually holed out for 141. It was a tough walk back as Kohli was dejected, and the remaining batters folded quickly. Nathan Lyon was brilliant on a final day pitch, taking seven wickets in the innings and twelve in the match.

Despite the loss though, the mindset by Kohli set up his journey as captain. He was aggressive and fearless in going for a target even when there was an option to play for the draw. The defeat turned out to be crucial for India as it helped pave the way for two series wins in Australia in the following years. The core of the side was found, and Virat Kohli quickly began to build his legacy as one of India’s best Test captains.