New Delhi: By no means, it has been a test by fire for the new India Test captain Virat Kohli in Sydney. The Indian team suffered a horrendous Day 1 at Sydney Cricket Ground, then on Day 2 the script never got any better for the tourists.
There was a clamour of negative calls for providing batting friendly pitch in the series, but the manner in which Indians toiled hard on the field laid open a couple of bare facts – those of poor bowling and of course bad leadership. Luckily for Indians, Steven Smith opted to declare the innings at 572 for 7 just after tea on Day 2.
During the course of two days' play, which also included Indians playing out 25 overs, Kohli adopted strange tactics forcing many to question his tactical acumen as a Test captain. Unlike the One Day Internationals or Twenty20 matches, Test cricket requires patience, besides meticulous planning.
But the Indian skipper, who starred in the first Test of the series in Adelaide, seemed too raw for such nuances of the game. In one period of play – to be precise, just after Tea on Day 1, Kohli gave the ball to Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for one over each.
With Australia already on 242 after 60 overs, losing only two wickets, any opposition captain would struggle to cope with the situation. But giving an over each to three bowlers, seemed an odd strategy to adopt. Cricket, like any other sport, is also about inspiring confidence.
Perplexed with the tactics, Ian Chappell blamed the the Indian skipper for impatience. The Australian great told a TV channel, "It sent out a message of impatience to the bowlers. And I think that contributed to the bad bowling. But I don't understand this sort of impatience; one-over spells, that's not giving the bowler a chance at all."
Michael Clarke also joined the charade, questioning Kohli's tactics. But the injured skipper was more sympathetic and probably tried to reason the impatience.
"I don't think I have a reason to give you why Virat has done that. I think in the shorter form of the game, T20 cricket, the one-over spells can work so a batter doesn't get too used to a particular bowler. But in a Test match I don't know the exact reason ... maybe it was to try something different to get a breakthrough,” Clarke said.
However, the real blow came from the Indian camp. Bowling coach Bharat Arun, who was sent out to represent obviously disgruntled and tired players in the press conference, said that he will have a discussion with Kohli about the strategy he adopted. “I'll really have to discuss with the captain and find out what the strategy was there,” Bharat admitted during Tuesday's conference in Sydney.
What transpired between the coach and captain before the start of second Day's play is not known, but Indian bowlers continued to struggle against the hosts. The only bright side was Mohammed Shami completing a five-for despite all six Australian top-order batsmen registering a record 50-plus scores.
It was indeed a tough outing for Kolhi and his boys.