Virat Kohli and RCB captaincy: Stepping down will do good to both him and the side
One can expect flashes in the pan from such outfits instead of consistent and steady performances.
Updated - Mar 29, 2019 4:16 pm
It will not be an exaggeration if the 30-year-old Virat Kohli is called the Midas of Indian cricket. The ace batsman has not just dwarfed many batting records that his predecessors, including the great Sachin Tendulkar, had registered over the years but also some of the top captaincy records. It is not often seen in India that a player is excelling both as a captain and a batsman at the same time. Captaincy is a massive responsibility and it is assumed that people with strong shoulders can only carry it.
However, when it comes to the Indian Premier League, Kohli’s captaincy becomes a completely different story. Unlike MS Dhoni who has succeeded as the captain in both international cricket and IPL or Rohit Sharma, another successful IPL captain who has delivered whenever he has chipped in as the national captain, Kohli has witnessed two different tales in the two formats. Just as his captaincy feats in international cricket have turned enviable, he has struggled in the IPL as the skipper.
Despite leading Royal Challengers Bangalore for six seasons since 2013, Kohli has managed to take his team to the final only once (2016) but lost the title clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad. In his seventh season as the captain too, Kohli’s side saw a disastrous start, losing its first match to Chennai Super Kings by 7 wickets after getting bundled out for 70. In the second match, too, the RCB finished second best to Mumbai Indians, losing by just six runs.
Like every big story has a weak link, Kohli too has one and that is his record in the IPL. Since cricket is a team game boosted by individuals, Kohli’s batting record in the tournament has often eclipsed the collective failure of the RCB. On Thursday too, he became the second batsman to complete 5,000 runs in the IPL after Suresh Raina who did it in the first game against the Royal Challengers.
But the fact that his team has not matched any of his own greatness as its member has and is bound to affect the great man’s captaincy credentials. We have seen already names like Gautam Gambhir and Mitchell Johnson having raised questions over Kohli’s captaincy in the RCB though in different ways and if the RCB fail to make this season count, things will be turning unfavourable for the man even more.
Over-dependence on brand names doesn’t always work; look at RCB
The RCB’s biggest problem is perhaps its over-dependence on a few brand names that have eclipsed the rest of the squad. Earlier, it was Kohli-AB de Villiers-Chris Gayle and now it is largely Kohli and de Villiers after the Caribbean’s departure. The fact that there are others doing the duty for the side as a routine affair perhaps has hurt the RCB the most. It is true that teams like MI are more star-studded but even then one can’t call them the most consistent team in the IPL.
The RCB’s case perhaps drives home the point that big names do not always deliver the best as the lesser names might fail to realise the potential standing next to some of the world’s best. One suspects the RCB do not have that layer of players who can provide that perfect link between the top layer and the not-so-prominent one. It is important for a team to have that middle or second level that can help the team gel perfectly.
The sea of difference between the experience and skills of the top few and those in the lower stratum who are playing more to create an identity of their own means the team as a whole is not on a balanced platform. One can expect flashes in the pan from such outfits instead of consistent and steady performances.
Kohli not as captain will do both him and RCB good
One school of thought feels Kohli should be removed from RCB’s captaincy or rather he should step down for the good of all. It will not only reduce his own burden since the man is already captaining the national team in all three formats besides scoring brisk runs for the country, but also see the team being led by a non-superstar but effective cricketer. Kohli can be right up there as a special batsman in the side, free to play his own game while the rest of the team can work on its collective plans in a less celebrated manner.
That way, the focus will be more on Kohli’s own batting which he is a master to manage. Not seeing Kohli at the helm of an RCB team which is doing ordinarily will deflate the media’s curiosity and that will give the franchise a better space to retrospect and not get distracted in unnecessary noise. If Kohli is not destined to win an IPL, we can’t really blame him. There is no effort that he has spared to lift the trophy and went so close to realising it in 2016.
But since there is an invisible force in this universe that does the balancing act by ensuring that not everyone gets everything, Kohli can take solace from the fact that he has given his best which is what matters. Otherwise, it is getting far too predictable and disheartening to see the man, who is otherwise never short of energy, missing the bus again and again.