IPL 2020: Can a more mature Virat Kohli finally lead RCB to glory?
“You mean IPL? I don’t really care whether I am judged on this or not”. The words were spoken by Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli in response to criticism over his captaincy in the cash-rich league.
Kohli has indeed been unable to emulate his success at the international level as the skipper of the Indian team when it comes to the Indian Premier League. India is currently not only the top-ranked team in Tests but also leads the World Test Championships points table by a fair distance.
In the shorter formats too Kohli has achieved a fair amount of success as a leader. India did make it to the last four stages of the 2019 ICC World Cup under him. But his record as a captain in IPL is disappointing. But is the IPL title a must for somebody like Kohli to be regarded as a great leader?
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Written off as an IPL captain
Well, at least some people have already written off Kohli as a skipper for his underwhelming performance as a leader in the IPL.
“I don’t see him as a shrewd captain. I don’t see him as a tactful captain and he has not won the IPL. So a captain is as good as his record” -Gautam Gambhir, the former Indian cricketer-turned-lawmaker, once said about Kohli
Kohli has been the captain of RCB since 2011 and in 110 matches the team has managed to win 49 matches under his leadership. His win percentage as a captain is 47.16. M.S. Dhoni has the highest win percentage of 60.11 as skipper followed by Gambhir who has a win percentage of 55.42.
Poor show of RCB in IPL cannot be entirely blamed on the skipper
Rohit Sharma, as captain, has guided Mumbai Indians to a record 4 IPL titles. The legendary Dhoni has won three titles. Kohli is third in terms of the win percentage among captains but he is yet to hold the coveted IPL trophy.
RCB has however reached the final on three occasions. Kohli has been a prolific scorer for the franchise with the bat over the years. He is the highest scorer in the history of IPL so far with a tally of 5,412 runs. In the last year’s IPL the team finished at the bottom of the points table.
But the most baffling issue is that RCB as a team have always boasted of some solid cricketers who are proven performers at different levels. So much so, that it has one of the biggest fan bases among the franchises that are part of the T20 league.
Too much reliance on Kohli and De Villiers
Not many batsmen in the RCB ranks have managed to perform to their potential. Most of the runs scored by RCB last season came from the bats of Kohli and De Villiers, a recurring theme over the years.
The bowling department too has failed to produce the desired results despite boasting of consistent performers lie Yuzvendra Chahal.
A lot of experts have concluded that a huge part of the problem for RCB has been the think-tank’s inability to strike the right team balance. Therefore, the first and foremost thing that RCB should set right is to choose the right kind of players in the playing eleven.
Leading by example
A lot has been said regarding the captaincy of Kohli. Many say that the reason for his success as an India captain can be attributed to the guidance of somebody like Dhoni. It cannot be denied that Kohli was lucky to have had a champion leader like Dhoni in his team when he took charge.
But credit must be given to the current Indian skipper for letting his senior pro have a say in the scheme of things. After all the mark of a good leader lies in how he uses the resources at his disposal.
The one quality of Kohli as a captain which stands out is his ability to lead by example. One can rest assured that he will follow what he preaches. It is something that can inspire fellow teammates to give only their best for the team. His work-ethic in this regard does not change in the IPL.
Kohli has certainly evolved as captain since last IPL
After last year’s IPL, Kohli as a captain has seen a lot and evolved. In the 2019 ICC World Cup India lost a closely-fought semi-final encounter against New Zealand. It was a match which many thought could have ended differently for India if Dhoni had been promoted in the batting order.
As India captain, Kohli had to shoulder a majority of the blame for the World Cup debacle. The Men in Blue nevertheless had a good campaign in the World Cup till that match. The fact that he had to cope with such a huge disappointment must have been a humbling experience for Kohli.
Hungrier than before
But he sent across the right message when he decided to accompany the Indian team for a tour to West Indies immediately after the World Cup. Initially, he was meant to be rested. Kohli, instead, chose to be back in the thick of things and move on from the past. Perhaps hungrier than before.
India performed exceptionally well as the Windies lost both Tests as well as the T20I and ODI series which were a part of the tour. Then back home the Men in Blue convincingly humbled the South Africans. Kohli was impressive with the willow in both the series.
Importantly, since the retirement of Dhoni from Tests, Kohli has come out of the shadows of the former India captain. He has certainly stamped his authority as far as the way Team India’s approach is concerned.
A new version of Kohli
Gone are the days when a temperamental Kohli could go to the extent of saying that he is no longer friends with Aussie cricketers. Something which he did after the infamous ‘brain fade’ moment of Steven Smith.
This new version of the Indian captain does not mind going out of his way and requests a hostile crowd to stop booing Smith. The incident had occurred during the ICC 2019 World Cup in England.
“I must admit I am enjoying Virat Kohli’s press conferences. Gone is the man who seemed to have an axe to grind with the media, who took on them, sometimes needlessly”, the senior commentator Harsha Bhogle recently wrote on Facebook.
Time for RCB to turn the tide
So, expect skipper Kohli to return to the IPL in 2020 with a new kind of vengeance. But can RCB lift the IPL title? Only time will tell.