The Virat Kohli Test captaincy era is just over two years old. While the top batsman has gone from strength to strength as a player, his leadership too has been marked by a dynamic approach. (LIVE BLOG | LIVE SCORECARD)
Virat Kohli marked his 25th Test as skipper in the second match against Australia at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday. And none of the 24 Tests under him, since being handed the job in stand-in capacity for MS Dhoni in Adelaide in late 2014, has featured the same eleven.
His leadership has gone from all-out aggression, which saw India almost pull off a sensational win in Adelaide, to a more calculated approach following the defeat in the first Test in Galle on the 2015 Sri Lanka tour caused by a second innings batting collapse.
#TeamIndia head coach @anilkumble1074 inspects the pitch #INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/rTysd00efB— BCCI (@BCCI) March 4, 2017
Injuries, poor form and a horses-for-courses policy have all played a role in the constant changes. However, the Indian team management has backed regulars as their prompt recall of Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha despite replacements Karun Nair and Parthiv Patel doing well shows.
‘It’s important to accept defeat and learn from your mistakes,’ @imVkohli ahead of the 2nd Test against Australia #INDvAUS pic.twitter.com/1ZXDyOTV39— BCCI (@BCCI) March 3, 2017
In Bangalore, India made two changes, and like most of the Tests where the eleven has been tweaked, one of the two changes has been caused by injury.
India suffered a blow after opening batsman Murali Vijay was ruled out due to a shoulder injury suffered while fielding in the first Test in Pune, which Australia won by 333 runs to inflict a humiliating defeat on the hosts inside three days.
Thank you to the Team at A3 for pushing me harder with my workouts.Had a great week here! Loved it ?? pic.twitter.com/9rOweNUd3q— Karun Nair (@karun126) February 19, 2017
Karun Nair, who became only the third batsman to convert his maiden Test century into a triple in the final Test against England at Chennai in December, was recalled into the side as India fielded six specialist batsmen by reducing the bowling unit to four.
No network. No wifi and the boys are all up for a game of FIFA #TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/zIbrYRS6Ar— BCCI (@BCCI) December 14, 2016
Nair’s has been the latest change to pay rich dividends, having come on as injury replacement for Ajinkya Rahane during the England series. The other change that had worked was the inclusion of Jayant Yadav as the third spinner in the England series.
Jayant Yadav impressed with his off-spin on debut in the second Test against England in Visakhapatnam, taking nine wickets in the series and also scoring a century batting at No 9, besides a half-century.
Indian coach Anil Kumble (L) and captain Virat Kohli chat during a practice session prior to the second Test match between India and Australia at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Friday. (AFP)
Both Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble have praised the performances of players drafted in, either as injury replacements or as part of a horses-for-the-courses policy. They see this as a new professional approach in the Indian team set up.
During the England series, India made eight changes to the playing eleven, and three players were shuffled for the one-off Test against Bangladesh that followed. From that game, three changes have been effected in the first two Tests against Australia.
The inclusion of Karun Nair as the sixth batsman and omission of Jayant Yadav shows that Virat Kohli is willing to tweak the five-bowler theory he is fond of.