For quite some time now, India skipper Virat Kohli has been doing wonders with the willow across all three formats but during the recently concluded South Africa tour he took his batting feats to a different level altogether.
While Kohli finished the three-match Test series with 286 runs on some of the most difficult pitches, he aggregated more than 500 runs in the subsequent six-match ODI series against the Proteas. Virat was the only batsman from either side to score a century in the Test series and he compiled three more tons in the 50-over format.
Apart from his top-class batsmanship, Kohli was also fairly aggressive on the field with his body language and dynamic captaincy. No wonder, he won a lot of fans owing to his stellar show in South Africa.
Recently, former Australia captain Steve Waugh lauded Kohli for leading the team from the front in a tough tour. However, he urged the Indian Captain to tone down his on-field aggression a bit.
Differing with Waugh’s opinion, legendary India skipper Kapil Dev feels as long as the team is doing well he doesn’t have any problem with Kohli’s over the top aggression. Kapil also added that Virat will mellow down with time.
“I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Steve has his opinion. I'm not going to respond to that. I feel as long as success is coming to the team, that's good enough. Basically, our nation is a very soft nation. Virat is one of the few who have come out and changed the thought process. In fact, it was Sourav Ganguly who started changing our thought process. And then we had MS Dhoni, who was a totally different person. He was calm and quiet. So it's what works for you. As long as success is coming on the field, that's more important. I think Virat (Kohli) will mellow down as time passes. If not, that's his decision. He's always been like this ever since I saw him in his U-19 days,” Dev said in an exclusive interview with Firstpost.
During the 58-day long South Africa tour, Team India won both the limited series (ODIs and T20Is) convincingly besides conceding the closely fought three-match Test series 1-2. While the Men in Blue clinched the six-match ODI series with a stunning margin of 5-1, they won the three-match T20I series 2-1.
When asked to comment on India's tour of South Africa, Kapil said: “India's tour went wonderfully well. I never expected that the team would bounce back so well (after the first two Tests). India should have won the Test series also, but South Africa played really well. India got some opportunities in the Tests, but they could not exploit that. But finally, once the won the last Test, India didn't look back. Winning 5-1 in South Africa against South Africa was huge. Besides Virat Kohli, our wrist spinners also did an incredible job. In the last few years, ever since he's taken over he's done amazingly well in the way he's motivated the entire team.”
Talking about Kohli's predecessor MS Dhoni, Dev said the inspirational wicketkeeper-batsman is good enough to carry on and there is no cricketer in India who can replace him right now.
“Why do people have this doubt? Is there any cricketer who can take Mahi's place in the next series? I'm not talking about the 2019 World Cup. I'll go series by series. He's such a mature cricketer if he can help Virat Kohli, why not? If he's not performing at all, I can understand. The problem with the media is that they compare Dhoni with what he was 10 years back. He's not going to be like that, but I think we need to see whatever he's doing for the team is it good enough for the team or not,” Kapil remarked.
On being asked about India’s chances in the next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup, the 1983 World Cup winning captain said there is still a lot of cricket to be played before the showpiece event and things could drastically change by then.
“The 2019 World Cup is still far away. There's still a lot of cricket to be played. I personally feel this is too early to discuss the 2019 World Cup. I don't know what the team will be when the World Cup comes along or what the situation will be like then. You can't say how many people will be hundred percent fit. It depends on what players are available given form and injuries. If you look at the Indian team now, they look like a good team. Of course, India are candidates to win the World Cup. But there's still a long way to go,” Kapil Dev concluded.