Cricket Column: Three things that should bother Kohli

Sports Monday 13/February/2017 18:27 PM
By: Times News Service
Cricket Column: Three things that should bother Kohli

No one expected Virat Kohli or Anil Kumble to get crazy over the 208-run victory against Bangladesh in the one-off Test series, and they didn’t when it happened post-lunch on day five. After a brief burst of delight soon after the visitors lost their last wicket on Monday, it was all over and the focus was on the more fancied friends from Down Under set to land in Pune to begin a four-Test series.
It was unfortunate that Mushfiqur Rahim and his young bunch of boys found themselves overshadowed by things predestined. There was nothing they could do to take the focus away from the Australian team — except scoring an upset win over India which under the circumstances looked as impossible as either India or Bangladesh beating the Brazilians in a game of football.
For a team playing their first Test against India in India, Bangladesh ticked some impressive boxes. Their first innings total of 388 runs scored in almost 128 overs and the second innings that lasted more than 100 overs and 250 runs were the bright spots. More famous visitors like South Africa, New Zealand and England had not been able cope with the pressure of chasing a 400-plus target on Indian pitches. It was bold and beautiful on the part of the visitors from across the borders to put on a brave, positive show in both their innings. Under similar circumstances in 2015, the South Africans chose to block and tackle, and perished after an agonizing 144-over hiding for a paltry 143 runs.
Bangladesh could have tried to get a few things done better than they actually did. Their first innings, when captain Mushfiqur got a hundred and Shakib Al Hassan got close to a century, was impressive. They took the battle to the fifth day and post lunch. Had a couple of senior guys put on a better show, Bangladesh could have forced Kohli to take the field after tea and stretched it as long as they could. A faint vision of a draw was as good as a win.
For India, it was a victory that came just the way it was expected. Three batsmen scored centuries, Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja relived their romance together, the fast bowlers fared well on a flat pitch. Amid these positives, a few things that hadn’t been looking good remained just as ugly.
The openers keep failing to get going together. KL Rahul was slotted in for Shikhar Dhawan, but the results weren’t pleasant. Unfortunately, the bench is empty on this count, so the option left for Kohli and Kumble is either getting Dhawan back in or keeping faith in Rahul hoping against hope.
Slip-fielding is another area that is not picking up the way it should. Murali Vijay dropped a sitter when Mehedi Hasan Miraz nicked a ball from Ishant Sharma in the second innings. Bangladesh were seven down at that stage and slips like that against a better team like Australia may prove costly and hand the momentum back to the rivals.
India need to use the review system better than they did against Bangladesh. Kohli ran out of the option twice when Bangladesh batted. In the first innings, Taskin Ahmed survived an lbw shout off Ashwin and, in the second, Kamrul Islam Rabbi got lucky when Ishant Sharma trapped him in front of the wicket. Umpires rejected the shouts on both occasions but India had no reviews left. TV replays showed that both batsmen were plumb.
Post-match, Ravi Shastri thrust the mike at Kumble and posed the question: “Do you think the team have ticked all the boxes?” Kumble’s “yes” came on the dot. A little later, Kohli said their “minds and hearts are already on it”.
The great Indian home season looks set for a dramatic climax.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman