India vs Australia: Spotlight shifts to new Test skipper Virat Kohli
Sydney: Three days after India captain MS Dhoni surprised the cricket world with his sudden retirement from Test cricket, the focus is slowly shifting towards the new skipper and how India would make a fresh start with Virat Kohli at the helm when final Test commences here on January 6.
With Dhoni opting to stay away from not only the cricket field but also off it, as he didn't attend the high-tea organised on Sunday by the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for both the teams, Kohli has been hogging all the limelight.
Dhoni's retirement technically means he is no longer a part of the Test squad, but he was invited nevertheless.
In his absence, the spotlight was on Kohli, who posed for camerapersons with his Australian counterpart Steven Smith and the Prime Minister, and later in the captain's photo-op.
But even before Dhoni's retirement, Kohli was the centre of attention in Australia, but not because in the manner in he led in the first Test at Adelaide, but for his aggressive run-ins with the Aussie players in the last two Tests.
"Virat Kohli is a fascinating personality. He is very aggressive and looks to get under the opposition's skin. At the same time, he also doesn't mind when they talk back to him. In fact he thrives on it and relishes when they sledge him," said former Australian fast bowler Damien Fleming.
"I wouldn't sledge Kohli if I were bowling to him. He will only use it to fire himself up and use it against you," he added.
Kohli scored two centuries in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval, leading India to an almost improbable win. The former Australian international believes that the new captain will be an improvement on the one who exited the scene.
"Dhoni isn't too volatile on the field and he doesn't sledge. When there is hostility in the field, he is a very calming influence, which is good. But he also let the game drift away and didn't adapt quickly in Test cricket.
"Kohli will be a reactive captain if not better and his batting traits will help him. He stands out of the crease, taking LBW out of the equation. It is a small example how Kohli is a thinking player and he evolves as the game progresses, which is how a captain should be," Fleming said.
Fleming said the fact that Kohli is reactive, may be good for the game.
"Kohli is different from someone like Sachin Tendulkar or Adam Gilchrist, who never reacted to anything anyone said to them. More often, no one said anything. But even if they did get a few words, they wouldn't show what they were feeling.
"Tendulkar might be burning up in anger inside, yet his face wouldn't bat an eyelid. He was unflinching. Kohli is a different personality and it is only good for the game that we have such personalities," Fleming insisted.
Meanwhile, the speculations about Dhoni's whereabouts has been put to rest as he is here, and had travelled from Melbourne along with the team on New Year's Eve. It is expected that he will continue to stay put in Australia despite a near 16-day break before his next international assignment, the tri-series, involving England.
In addition, the BCCI has no plans of sending along reinforcements as KL Rahul will serve as the back-up wicket-keeper should Wriddhiman Saha not be able to take the field for any reason in the fourth Test.
In fact, it remains to be seen if Rahul indeed might stay in the XI since he played in Melbourne, and the new captain might decide on whether to include Saha in his plans at all.---- PTI