Virat Kohli has become a better player with captaincy, says Gavaskar
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In an interview with NDTV, cricketing great Sunil Gavaskar spoke in high praise of India captain Virat Kohli, discussing his performance in India's first ODI against New Zealand at Wankhede.
“It can happen and it does happen to a lot of players that captaincy actually makes them better players,” Gavaskar said.
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India and New Zealand played the first of three ODIs at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, setting a target of 280 runs for the visitors. Virat Kohli top-scored in that match with 121 runs off 125 deliveries, but found little to no support from his teammates barring Dinesh Karthik, who chipped in with a 37-run innings.
India would eventually lose the ODI, with New Zealand's Tom Latham the top scorer with 103 runs; Latham was ably supported by former skipper Ross Taylor, who was caught just short of a century at 95. They chased successfully, losing only 4 wickets en route.
Kohli has always been a skilled batsman, Gavaskar said, but that captaincy has "really shaped" the player he has become. "Some players under the pressure of captaincy can go down in their performances but Virat actually is relishing the responsibility," Gavaskar said, clarifying that the pressure of an additional responsibility could well go south, but that this was not the case with Kohli.
Gavaskar also praised Kohli's leadership on its own, saying that he set an example for his team in addition to leading from the front. "He is wanting to do well for his team and he is taking the team along with him. Because there is a common goal and they (Indian team) are trying to be the best team in the world, it’s his (Kohli) responsibility to score a 100 and put a price tag on his wicket," Gavaskar said.
Virat Kohli has always been a man of action, and with a floundering pair of openers took the bull by the horns to put 121 runs on the board. Although he received poor backing from his team, Kohli did try to both lead and step up in the absence of his team, proving what Gavaskar said correct.
India will take on New Zealand in the second of the three ODI series in Pune, with the third to be played in Nagpur; a T20I series will commence on the 1st of November.