Ravichandran Ashwin feels Virat Kohli leads Indian Test team by example
When you are captaining your country for the first time in Tests and that too in Australia, most cricketers may not prefer to take enormous risks. However, Virat Kohli urged his troops to go after the seemingly improbable target of 364 on the final day of a rapidly deteriorating pitch during the 2014 Adelaide Test. Although India eventually lost the match by 48 runs, their daring chase demonstrated the ambitions of a young side which would go on to reach the top of the rankings.
All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin has opined that the thrilling Test set the tone for Kohli’s aggressive captaincy. In a free-wheeling chat with India Today, the 30-year old from Tamil Nadu compared the leadership styles of MS Dhoni and Kohli whilst also opening up on the influence of head coach Anil Kumble on his remarkable form.
Ashwin believed, “Both of them (Dhoni and Kohli) have different teams for starters. The team that Dhoni was handling was a team full of seniors who knew what they had to do. There wasn't a lot of driving that was needed. And Mahi's style is very different to that of Virat's. Whereas Virat is someone who, he always wants to do it. If you tell him this is going to be impossible, that’s like proper fodder for him to say chalo okay let me show you how it needs to be done.”
He added, “You don't want to challenge Virat. He just loves any kind of challenge. That's what you saw in Adelaide, that was one of the finest Test matches I've been a part of. I feel a little sad that I wasn't playing in that game but my God, what a Test match it was to watch. Ever since I came in to the Indian team and to go after a score like that on the final day in Adelaide was nothing but attitude, nothing but telling yourself and telling the team that boss we are going for it.”
India seem to have come a long way since then with four consecutive series victories in the aftermath of the Australian tour (excluding the rain affected one-off Test in Bangladesh). Ashwin played a major role in their rise to the top of the ICC rankings with Player of the Series awards in each of those four series. With the country’s all-time leading wicket taker joining the current lot as coach earlier this year, the off-spinner has become even more menacing.
Ashwin enthused, “Anil (Kumble) is a very intense person, to the extent that he's far more intense than me. He tries to break things down for me. During the stint that he's been with us, through West Indies and this tour (New Zealand series), he has always given me feedback. There have been times when he's actually dissected my wickets and he's told me what are the areas I need to be bowling.”
With the insatiable appetite to keep winning Test matches uniting the Indian captain, coach and lead spinner, there are bound to be numerous fascinating conversations between them in terms of discussing strategies and approaches.
The wily cricketer revealed, “I don't think you want to bring the whole team near the discussions that we have (laughs), and around team dinners and parties, where we are talking about cricket. It's been a culture. I love dissecting and talking about cricket and I think I found allies in both of them. We can keep talking cricket 24x7.”