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Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli and a tale of the two captains in T20Is

Virat Kohli (left) and Eoin Morgan
Virat Kohli (left) and Eoin Morgan
ANALYST
Modified 23 Mar 2021
Feature

England’s white-ball renaissance is attributed to Eoin Morgan’s leadership. The Ireland-born southpaw started the process after the debacle of the 2015 World Cup and reaped dividends for the same.

England almost laid their hands on the 2016 T20 World Cup, but their dreams were thwarted by a Carlos Brathwaite special in the last over. Three years later, luck embraced their skills as Eoin Morgan became the first England captain to lift the 50-over World Cup.

Despite losing the T20I series 2-3 in India, Eoin Morgan’s England continues to dominate the ICC T20I Rankings, and of course, they continue to top the ODI tables.

Over the past six years, England have approached white-ball cricket very differently. They have relied on all-rounders and power-hitters, which has enabled them to create scoreboard pressure.

On the other hand, there’s Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, who had the task of slipping into the massive boots of MS Dhoni when he took over the limited-over reins in 2017.

Eoin Morgan had a clean slate, while Virat Kohli was replacing arguably the greatest-ever white-ball captain.

Unlike Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli’s trophy cabinet doesn’t boast off too much illustrated silverware in limited-overs cricket.

Trivia: Virat Kohli’s first assignment as T20I captain was against Eoin Morgan’s England in early 2017. India lost the first T20I at Kanpur but returned stronger to win the next two to claim the series.

Ever since a teenaged Virat Kohli won India the Under-19 World Cup, he was tipped for national captaincy. A prolific run-getter in every format, Virat Kohli eventually became Dhoni’s deputy in 2012. Later that year, he also went on to become the regular captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

One of the most popular teams in the T20 circuit, Virat Kohli, the captain, has failed to inspire RCB to an IPL title. RCB has often been found lagging strategically and has raised questions on Virat Kohli’s leadership in the shortest format.

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For any IPL captain to have led in more than 48 matches, Virat Kohli’s success rate of 47.22% is the lowest. MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma enjoy success rates of 59.65% and 58.49%, respectively.

A large section of the media, pundits and even fans have judged Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, through the glare of IPL leadership.

Pundits like Parthiv Patel and Gautam Gambhir believe Rohit Sharma should be handed over the Indian limited-overs reins. As a captain, Rohit Sharma has won 5 IPL trophies, and whenever he has led India, he has done very well.

While Rohit Sharma has led Mumbai Indians to 3 IPL trophy wins in the last four editions, Virat Kohli has finished 8/8, 6/8, 8/8 and 4/8 in the last four editions.

Knowing the formula to win tournaments works in favor of Rohit Sharma, but has Virat Kohli done anything wrong to lose his captaincy in T20Is?

While Virat Kohli’s reputation as a leader in T20s has taken a beating due to the IPL results, Eoin Morgan is considered one of the finest brains in world cricket. In the middle of the IPL 2020, he replaced Dinesh Karthik as Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) captain.

The perceptions haven't changed much even after Virat Kohli’s India won their sixth consecutive T20I series, and if RCB fail to win the IPL, the temporary silence will convert to murmurs again.

Let’s compare Virat Kohli and Eoin Morgan’s numbers in international cricket and see what story they tell.

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Eoin Morgan vs Virat Kohli in T20Is

T20I career as players

Virat Kohli is among the finest limited-overs players
Virat Kohli is among the finest limited-overs players

T20I career as captains

Virat Kohli continues to lead the way.
Virat Kohli continues to lead the way.

Eoin Morgan’s T20I career vs India

Eoin Morgan
Eoin Morgan's SR surges.
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Virat Kohli’s T20I career vs England

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli's 80* against England on Saturday is his highest score against the side.

Eoin Morgan vs Virat Kohli – T20I captaincy record

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli's success rate is better.

Eoin Morgan vs Virat Kohli – head to head in England-India T20Is

India has clearly dominated.
India has clearly dominated.
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England’s resurgence in white-ball cricket started after their 2015 World Cup debacle.

T20Is since April 2015

India have a better win-loss ratio.
India have a better win-loss ratio.

***

Despite England’s right approach in the T20Is, India have found ways to win games. However, no side has invested as much into T20Is as England in the recent past. England have dropped Joe Root from the shortest format; they got Jos Buttler to open and have looked to groom players, especially for the shortest format. Dawid Malan is a classic example of a T20I specialist they have backed.

While England had a settled side that started as favorites for the T20I series in India, the hosts were trying to fix their strategy. They were caught up between the game-plan of ODIs and T20Is and experimenting with players.

In fact, there’s a bigger question mark here – do India field their best T20I side?

Despite all of this, India ended up beating the no.1 ranked England 3-2, with Virat Kohli being adjudged the Player of the Series. Maybe Kohli is doing some things right, and it’s time we used the same parameters of results and not perceptions to form opinions.

Published 23 Mar 2021, 01:18 IST
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