‘Don’t understand why people want Kohli to mellow down’

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“First, everyone wanted a very aggressive captain and now you want Kohli to stop his aggressive streak.” © BCCI

Former India cricketer and member of BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), Madan Lal questioned present Indian captain Virat Kohli’s critics, who often denounce Kohli’s aggressive on-field behaviour.

During India’s recent tour of New Zealand, Kohli had given aggressive send-offs to Kane Williamson and was apparently also seen swearing at the crowd at the Hagley Oval during the second Test in Christchurch. Off the field too, Kohli snapped at a journalist who asked him about the details regarding what happened on the field. He had also chided a reporter, who had asked him about India’s batting failures, after the first Test in Wellington.

Kohli has had a history of losing his cool in press conferences after India’s defeats. Two years ago, he had lashed out at a TOI journalist after losing the Test series in England in September 2018. Irked over Kohli “being targeted again and again”, Lal said: “I don’t understand why people in India are asking him to mellow down.

“First, everyone wanted a very aggressive captain and now you want Kohli to stop his aggressive streak. I love the way he is on the field. Earlier, people used to say that Indians are not aggressive; now that we’ve become aggressive people question that and ask why we are so aggressive. I enjoy Kohli’s aggression; we need a captain like him,” he added.

Kohli totalled a mere 38 runs in four innings during the two-match Test series in New Zealand. And, in the seven limited-overs matches – 3 ODIs and 5 T20Is – Kohli managed to go past the 50-run mark only once. Since the 2014 Test series in England, where he scored 134 runs in 10 innings at an average of 13.4, Kohli has seldom endured a loss of form. The New Zealand series was a major blip for him.

Lal believes such downslide has happened to the best, and Kohli will “come back strongly”. “He was out of form. You can say it was a loss of confidence. That (series against New Zealand) doesn’t take anything away from him. He is still the world’s best player. At times, technical flaws come in and you then try harder and harder but still you don’t come out of it. It happens to the best of players,” he stated.

Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future with the national team has come under a lot of speculation in the recent past. Dhoni has not played a single match for India – ODI or T20I – since the semifinal loss to New Zealand in the 50-over World Cup last year. Dhoni, on his part, has not announced his retirement either. The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Australia later this year and whether Dhoni is going to be picked in the squad for the tournament is in the realms of conjecture. Asked what lies ahead for Dhoni, Lal clarified, “Picking Dhoni is selectors’ job. I don’t know what the selectors are thinking now.”

Lal and other members of the CAC – Rudra Pratap Singh and Sulakshna Naik – recently picked former India left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi as the chief selector of Indian senior men’s team and also chose ex-India pacer Harvinder Singh in the five-member selection panel. “It was a difficult decision. There were 40 candidates and we had to pick only two. Since MSK Prasad, the outgoing selector, was from the south region, we picked Sunil Joshi and Harvinder from the central region. “It was a unanimous decision by the committee,” Lal said. “Out of all the candidates, he (Sunil Joshi) was the best for the role of the chief selector.”

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