Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir has said that Virat Kohli has a lot left to achieve in his career as the captain of the country.
Gambhir, speaking about Kohli’s ability to score runs in all formats, felt that as a captain he is yet to win a major trophy that could catapult him into the discussion of great captains.
Between 2013 (when the team won the ICC Champions Trophy) and 2019 (ODI World Cup):
- India lost the T20 World Cup final in 2014
- India were knocked out by West Indies at the last four stage in 2016 in the World T20 at home.
- Despite going into the Champions Trophy final in 2017 as firm favourites, Kohli’s side were stunned by arch-rivals Pakistan.
- Enjoying a largely impressive run till the semi-finals in 2015 and 2019, MS Dhoni and Kohli’s sides were beaten at the final four by Australia and New Zealand respectively.
During this period Kohli’s stature as an all-format batsman has reached new heights but having taken over the captaincy from Dhoni, he is yet to taste success in a multi-team ICC tournament.
“Lots [left to achieve]... in a team sport, Gambhir said during an interview on Star Sports’ show ‘Cricket Connected’. “You can keep scoring runs and there are people like Brian Lara who’s got so many runs. People like Jacques Kallis who have won nothing. Virat Kohli, at the moment, has won nothing to be honest, as a leader.”
Gambhir said success of the team will matter more than his own runs at the ICC events.
“He has a lot to achieve. He can keep scoring his own runs. But for me, in a team sport, till the time you don’t win those big trophies, you will never be considered... probably you will never fulfill your entire career,” Gambhir added.
Asked how India can win one of the upcoming T20 World Cup editions, Gambhir, the two-time IPL-winning captain with Kolkata Knight Riders, said the test for Kohli would be to bring the best out of each individual in the side.
“He’s different from the rest. A lot of other players might not have the same ability that Virat Kohli has. As a leader, the most important quality which he needs to have is start taking players as they are. Don’t compare their intensity to his intensity. Because every individual is different and has pros and cons. You got to gel everyone together and try to bring the best out of everyone else.
“Mohammed Shami can never be Jasprit Bumrah. Or Ishant Sharma can never be Jasprit Bumrah. Or KL Rahul can never be Kohli. For that matter, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, all these guys probably can never match to Kohli’s intensity, and talent as well,” he added.
Under Kohli, India have tasted success in the longest format (winning a series for the first time ever in Australia, in addition to being the number one in the world for a considerable time before recently losing that spot). But in limited overs, India’s recent successes have been in bilateral series (home and away) while the Asia Cup success in 2018 came under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy.
Also watch: World Cup-winning batsman Gambhir and all-rounder Irfan Pathan also spoke about what has gone wrong at the big matches, weighing in on India’s poor record in knock-out games in recent years.
‘Kohli’s biggest strength is his fitness’
Speaking on Kohli’s success in the T20 format, Gambhir has attributed it to the Indian captain’s fitness and ability to rotate strike.
“He [Kohli] was always a very smart cricketer, but then he turned his entire T20 career into a very successful one, just by being supremely fit,” Gambhir said on the show.
“Probably because he does not have the strength of Chris Gayle, he doesn’t have the ability of AB de Villiers, he probably does not have the ability of Jacques Kallis or Brian Lara.”
When asked what makes the India captain so effective in the shortest format of the game, he said: “The biggest strength he’s got is now his fitness and he’s turned that into his game as well, that’s why he has become so successful, so you got to give it to the guy.
“The most important thing is that he runs really well between the wickets, not many people do it.”
Kohli has also been successful in the Indian Premier League, having scored 5,412 runs from 177 games.
“There are very few cricketers in world cricket at this time who can rotate strike of every ball and that is what Virat Kohli does really well and that’s why he’s different from the rest,” said Gambhir.
According to Gambhir, Kohli is more consistent than teammate Rohit, when it comes to rotating the strike.
“You see Rohit Sharma, probably Rohit Sharma doesn’t have that quality which Virat Kohli has to rotate the strike. Rohit Sharma has the ability to hit those big shots, but that’s where Virat Kohli is more consistent than Rohit Sharma,” Gambhir said.
“Chris Gayle or AB de Villiers don’t have that ability to rotate the strike, especially against spin bowling, but Virat Kohli has that, that’s why he averages 50.”