'A captain’s attitude actually rubs on to his team and Kohli was always looking to win the Test.
'It is a worrying sign that Indians are struggling against spinners'
Maninder Singh and Chetan Chauhan tell Manu Shankar that Virat Kohli was correct in going for victory rather than trying to save the first Test against Australia.
Former India players Maninder Singh and Chetan Chauhan have thrown their weight behind an "aggressive and impressive" Virat Kohli, saying the skipper was correct in going for victory rather than trying to save the first Test against Australia in Adelaide on Saturday.
Set a daunting target of 364 on the final day, India, despite a brilliant 141 from Kohli and a gritty 99 from opener Murali Vijay, were dismissed for 315 and lost by 48 runs.
Nathan Lyon was Australia’s star performer, destroying India in the second innings with figures of 7-152.
Kohli, who scored a century in the first innings too, looked set to steer the team to victory before a middle-order collapse did the visitors in.
Despite the defeat, former India left-arm spinner Maninder lauded Kohli and the team’s showing on the final day.
"Honestly, I’m a little hurt that they lost a Test match they should have won, but I’m still happy to see the attitude -- that they didn’t surrender and didn’t, at any stage, shut shop,” said the former India spinner, adding, "but, if you ask me, they should have shut the shop after Rohit’s (Sharma) dismissal."
Maninder is of the view that one needs to strike a balance between being aggressive and defensive.
"A captain’s attitude actually rubs on to his team and Kohli was always looking to win the Test. But sometimes you need to bring a balance to it. Having said that, the positive attitude was a happy feeling and, hopefully, with time there will be a balance to it,” said the 49-year-old.
Former India opener Chauhan felt the team did everything extremely right through the course of the match, but crumbled when it mattered.
“India fought well in the Test, but crumbled when it mattered. I felt more determination and more boldness was needed, because up to tea time we had the match in our grasp; after Murali Vijay’s wicket the game completely changed,” he said.
Quizzed about the team coming up short against spin, he said: “It is a worrying sign that Indians are struggling against spinners. Of course, I agree that wicket was not easy and Nathan Lyon was bowling well in the middle, but the lower middle order should have done the job for India.”
Maninder also questioned Karn Sharma’s inclusion in the side ahead of the experienced Ravichandran Ashwin.
“Picking Karn Sharma looked like a desperate gamble. Honestly, I’ve never been impressed with him. But having said that the captain and coach have seen something in him, so I will like to wait and give him time.”
Would the team’s strategy been different had Mahendra Singh Dhoni led the side?
“Dhoni was never a good Test captain. He might have the record as the best Test captain for India, but for me he has very little idea of how to handle bowlers on the field.
“I would like to see Kohli captain the side and Dhoni play as a wicketkeeper-batsman,” said Maninder.
Umpiring howlers too played a part in India's defeat, with Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane given out to deliveries that clearly missed the bat. Asked for his take on it, Chauhan said “there were quite a few wrong decisions in the Test”, adding, “it’s about time that India accepts the DRS (Decision Review System)”.
With Michael Clarke ruled out for the rest of the series because of injury, Maninder feels it could be "advantage India" going into the second Test in Brisbane, which starts December 17.
"His class is different, both with bat and his captaincy."
Chauhan, though, believes that "Clarke’s absence is a disadvantage for them (Australia), and India needs to concentrate on its strengths and not on the opposition’s weakness."