'He has played enough of cricket under Dhoni to understand he has to stay calm in order to take the right decisions.'
Ahead of the first Test against the West Indies, former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad tells Rediff.com's Bikash Mohapatra that Virat Kohli's biggest challenge as captain is being able to inspire his colleagues to perform more consistently.
Virat Kohli's stint as Test captain has been eventful.
Handed the armband ahead of the opening Test against Australia in Adelaide (December, 2014), after Mahendra Singh Dhoni sustained a thumb injury, Kohli took over responsibilities full time from the fourth and final Test of that series in Sydney following the Dhoni's decision to quit the longer format.
Kohli has led India to victory in half of his 10 Tests in charge, and that includes a first series win in Sri Lanka in 22 years and a first home win over South Africa in 11 years.
"The maturity as a captain comes very quickly, especially in Test cricket," explains Anshuman Gaekwad.
"Virat being young himself is a good thing from the team perspective, as also the fact that he is very aggressive and always wants to win," the former national coach adds.
While Kohli's aggressive captaincy has led to India playing positive cricket -- the team trying to chase an improbable target in his first Test in charge in Adelaide being an example -- on the other, it has ensured on-field incidents that could have been avoided.
While Kohli has taken Dhoni's aggression a step further, he is yet to imbibe the restraint that personified his illustrious predecessor.
"Virat is very different from Dhoni as a captain. What he did in that Test in Australia is fine," says Gaekwad, "but to be in that position, from where you can go all out, you have to first create a strong base, and that won't always be the case."
"He has played enough of cricket under Dhoni to understand he has to stay calm in order to take the right decisions," Gaekwad feels.
The series in the West Indies, beginning Thursday, July 21, marks a first full-fledged tour outside the subcontinent where Kohli will lead India.
With Rahul Dravid having led India to its first series win in the Caribbean in 35 years in 2006, and Dhoni following suit in 2011, the onus is on Kohli to deliver a hat-trick of successes over the erstwhile Test powerhouse.
"Virat is under less pressure than say a Dravid or a Dhoni. In fact, Virat is in a much better position," says Gaekwad.
"But the West Indies (in the West Indies) is a very different proposition," says the former Test opener, who was struck repeatedly on his body while making a courageous 81 in the Kingston Test 40 years ago and eventually rushed to hospital after being felled by a bouncer.
"They have always been a very unpredictable team. So the Indian team has to keep all their options open, and be ready for any eventuality. Virat just has to carry himself well as a captain," Gaekwad adds. "He needs to continue batting well and lead by example."
Kohli's form with the bat has been exceptional in the last couple of years, so much so that the team, more often than not, is over dependent on him.
Gaekwad feels Kohli's biggest challenge as captain is being able to inspire his colleagues to perform more consistently.
"Cricket is a game of 11 players, and all of them have to contribute, be it in the longer or shorter versions," he says.
"There will be occasions when Virat will flop as a batsman, his form will drop. It is up to the other players to realise that and deliver accordingly," he says.
"Rohit (Sharma), for example, is a great player. But he gets a little itchy if he is stuck for a longer period. The more time he spends in the middle, the better he will get," Gaekwad, who had a reputation for long stints at the crease, says.
"Virat has to ensure that such players are disciplined and entrusted with responsibilities, so that they deliver when the need arises."