Kohli attacks, Ishant roars and India wins!

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 01, 2015 18:17 hrs

Every Indian captain brings something to the party to Team India. Some just go through the motions and become mere footnotes in Indian history while others bring such widespread changes that you could say that a new era has begun.

One such change is among us. Indian cricket is entering the Virat Kohli era. India's new Test captain has proved to be a tough and aggressive leader. He has shown that he refuses to back down no matter what the changes.

In Australia he fought aggression with aggression and almost won a Test. He scored nearly 700 runs in that series showing that it’s not just the shorter formats of the game where he belongs. Now his time has finally come with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Sri Lanka in the island nation.

It's our first foreign Test series victory since 2011 years and our first in Sri Lanka in more than 20 years.

Kohli's predecessor MS Dhoni had lost six foreign Test series on the trot and one thought that India would never win at this rate.

One must say that Kohli is not a meek and conservative captain and he went all out.

In the first Test he went with five bowlers and when that failed he still went with an all-rounder to balance the team. In the deciding Test at Colombo, Sri Lanka recovered from 47-6 to 201 in the first innings.

In the second innings Sri Lanka took it from 107-5 to 242 when Sri Lankan fans must have scented a rare victory chasing 386, but Kohli refused to lift his foot off the pedal.

To win on foreign pitches one desperately needs fast bowlers and this is where India sorely lags. That is one of the reasons why teams like Australia, England and South Africa have so many overseas Test victories.

While Ishant Sharma has been in and out of form in his career, Kohli decided to give him full freedom. Ishant has been a revelation in the series and decided to be at his aggressive best with great results.

On the fourth day Ishant got into a scuffle with the Sri Lankan players, but it was Ishant who had the last laugh. While Ishant picked up a crucial 3 wickets that set up India's series victory, our opponents failed to show any resistance.

First Dinesh Chandimal fell for just 18, then Lahiru Thirimanne for 12 and finally Dhammika Prasad for 6. Ishant’s mind games seemed to have worked.

While former cricket legends like Sunil Gavaskar soundly criticized Ishant for his theatrics, one thinks that we will see much more of this under the Kohli era.

And he may have a point. We finally started winning foreign Tests under Sourav Ganguly's aggression in the 2000s and Dhoni’s calmness (and sometimes total aloofness) fell apart in the last four years.

Ishant is the clear bowling spearhead and we last won outside the sub-continent in Lord's last year thanks to his aggression. How Ishant and Kohli handle the young bowling attack like Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron and the others to come is the key to how we will continue fighting on foreign pitches.

In the spin department R Ashwin (21 wickets) and Amit Mishra (15) were at the top of the wickets table and are proving to be fine Test all-rounders. They will be a formidable duo on home pitches.

The batting department is also settling down. While Team India was always short of openers, now we have a choice between Murli Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara. Crucially they have all scored centuries on foreign pitches as has Ajinkya Rahane.

How the entire batting fought and clawed their way back from desperate situations shows in the runs scored by all the batsmen in the series…

Kohli (233), Rohit Sharma (202), Rahane (178), Dhawan (162), Mishra (157), Pujara (145), Wridhimman Saha (131) and Rahul (126). Usually you will find just 1-2 batsmen among the runs. It's rare to find such a team performance by our batsmen.

Even Vijay got just one match and still hit an 82.

So what is the road forward? Expect Kohli to be an aggressive captain. Expect our batsmen to take risks and try to chase high targets. And expect the bouncers and short balls to keep coming from our quicks.

And expect Ishant to continue with his shenanigans and India just might get things right on foreign pitches!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/