Analysing how Virat Kohli and Harmanpreet Kaur are similar captains
In the aftermath of India’s eight-wicket defeat to England in the Women’s World T20 semi-final, there are many who have pinned the blame squarely at the feet of captain Harmanpreet Kaur, especially her inexplicable decision to drop Mithali Raj from the playing eleven.
However, one should understand that a captain usually tries to have the team in their own image. Harmanpreet Kaur is a naturally aggressive player and whether one likes it or not, she prefers to have a team that would play aggressively. It’s a different matter altogether that many of her teammates do not have her talent and cannot back up their aggression with capability.
This in many ways is similar to the captaincy style of Indian men’s cricket team – Virat Kohli. He too is an aggressive captain and has made no secret of his preferences for aggressive players over more defensive-minded players. His preference of Rohit Sharma over Ajinkya Rahane in the South Africa Test series and of KL Rahul over Cheteshwar Pujara in the England Test series earlier this year, point at a similar mindset.
In hindsight, both those captaincy decisions proved wrong and he had to go back to the more established test players – Rahane and Pujara – in the later part of the series. If Harmanpreet Kaur’s captaincy decisions, especially the team selection could be blamed for India’s exit in the T20 World cup, then so should Kohli’s as well for India’s series losses in South Africa and England.
However, one must understand that every captain has their own style. Selection of a team is the most important decision that a captain has to make. And this is where a captain has two choices, i.e. either to go for players, who have a similar style to his own or to rise above personal preferences and select a team with players who may have a very different mindset to that of the captain, if that is what the occasion demands.
Only the truly great captains rise above personal preferences. Both Kohli and Harmanpreet are great players. They are the present and future of Indian cricket. They are aggressive players and captains and wear their emotions on their sleeve. If Harmanpreet reprimanding Jemimah Rodrigues on the field came as an eyesore to some, there are several such instances of Kohli doing the same on the field.
It is difficult for either Kohli or Harmanpreet to change their style of captaincy. They will continue to remain aggressive and emotional. That does not mean they are not intelligent cricketers. It’s just that aggression is their preferred choice. As it turned out in the WWT20 or the afore-mentioned Test overseas test series, sometimes they do go wrong.
When captaincy is handed over to supremely talented aggressive players, one is bound to have some exhilarating victories coupled such disappointments once in a while. That comes with the territory.