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Why Virat Kohli-Ravi Shastri combination has successfully injected 'killer instinct' into Team India!

New Delhi: The aggressive approach of Team India's new Test captain Virat Kohli has been widely debated of late in cricketing world. Be it his fascination with fast bowlers, preference for playing with 5 specialist
Raj Singh September 26, 2015 14:50 IST
Raj Singh

New Delhi: The aggressive approach of Team India's new Test captain Virat Kohli has been widely debated of late in cricketing world. Be it his fascination with fast bowlers, preference for playing with 5 specialist bowlers or experimentation with top order, Virat has shown that he is not afraid of taking risks and coming up with ideas that were, hitherto, considered alien or unsuitable for Indian cricket team.

Apple founder Steve Jobs had once remarked that  it is the ability to innovate that separates a leader from a follower.  For long, India has been following a set pattern under which the bowling attack is mainly spearheaded by seamers or spinners.  India never encouraged genuine fast bowlers who could consistently hit the deck with 145K+ speed.

Even M S Dhoni, India's one of the most successful captains, openly said that instead of playing with a truly fast bowler who is conceding runs because of inadequate control over line and length, he would go for a bowler who is more disciplined.

Technically, what Dhoni said was right but he forgot the fact that all great teams known for making  winning a habit, including  West Indies of 1970s and early 80s and Australia of late 1990s and early 2000, had a couple of genuine fast bowlers who were capable of providing early breakthroughs and breaking long standing partnerships.

You may win under favourable home and pitch conditions but once out of your comfort zone, you can win consistently only if you have wicket taking bowlers who can change the course of a match within a few overs.

Virat Kohli has given the signal that he is willing to experiment with genuine fast bowlers and obviously it's a good sign for Indian cricket. His support for Umesh Yadav, who consistently bowls with 140K+ speed but loses control over line and length quite often,  will go a long way in not only boosting the morale of Umesh but will also encourage the new breed of Indian fast bowlers.

Yadav may be a bit expensive but he is a wicket taking bowler.   He can rattle the opponents with his sheer speed and you need such bowlers of his ilk.

Yadav who had faced flak from Dhoni during Bangladesh tour obviously feels more comfortable with Virat Kohli.

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“I am very comfortable with Virat. He always asks me about my plan and if that doesn't work he tells his plans. He always advises us to bring aggression into our bowling. Aggression doesn't mean bowling only fast. It's about bowling in the right areas,” Umesh Yadav had said recently.

Obviously, Virat Kohli is earning the respect of players like Umesh Yadav who look up to the captain during tough times.

Virat Kohli extended similar support to Ishant Sharma after he was suspended for one test because of his verbal altercations with Sri Lankan players during Colombo test. Ishant Sharma will now miss India's first Test against South Africa at Mohali from November 5.

Much to the dismay of veterans like Bishen Singh Bedi and Sanjay Manjarekar, both Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri came out openly in support of Ishant Sharma.

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This display of solidarity with an aggressive fast player who bowled his heart out on this tour has definitely boosted the morale of other young players of Team India.

Is the aggression of Kohli-Shastri combination working well for Team India?

It's not only the captain who has injected an element of aggression into Team India. Team director Ravi Shastri is also known for his aggressive approach and the combination has started producing results.

“If India created history by winning first overseas victory against Sri Lanka in last 22 years then it was only because of the aggressive approach of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri. The truth is that this team is short on merit and it's only the aggression of the captain and the coach that has resulted in the  much coveted victory against Sri Lanka,” said former Test player Chetan Sharma.

“ The aggressive approach changes the atmosphere of the dressing room. And I can tell you from my experience that it has a positive impact on the team. The players start believing in themselves,” Chetan added.

The historic victory in Sri Lanka proves that the kohli-Shastri combination has successfully injected “killer instinct” into Team India. The players have now started believing that they can still turn the match in their favour even if things are not going their way at that moment.

The comfort level between Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri seems to be excellent. Ravi Shastri's background and cricket record has earned him immense respect from both the captain and the players.  

"Ravi Shastri is a guy who does not shy away from responsibility. He is someone who takes the blows on the chin. He keeps moving forward. There is no two ways about his thinking. He is the most amazing person to have around this team right now because it is a young unit and the kind of confidence he gives. He has authority; when he speaks people respect him,” Virat Kohli had remarked.

And Chetan Sharma fully agrees with Virat Kohli on this.

“Ravi Shastri is one guy who will help you a lot if you are willing to listen. He is a veteran cricketer and has deep understanding of the game. I can vouch for his knowledge and sincerity  because I have played along with him and have shared dressing room with him. It's good that Kohli is getting along well with Shastri,” Chetan said.

Does it mean that Kohli's predecessor M S Dhoni did not gel well with Ravi Shastri?

Cricket analysts point out that Dhoni's case was a little different given the fact that he was already considered a legend by the time Shastri took over as the Team Director. Since he had already tasted success having won both ODI and T20 World Cups, his reverence for Ravi Shastri was not the same compared to Kohli.

Virat Kohli, however, carries no baggage and is more than willing to listens to Ravi Shastri's advice.