MS Dhoni handed over the limited-overs captaincy reins to Virat Kohli a few days ago. Virat, who has been India’s Test Captain since December 2014, took up the challenge when it was unexpected and has proved his mettle not only with his cricketing acumen, but also with the willow. He is ready for challenges coming his way and is also honoured to be the full-time captain of Team India.
“I am pretty ready and accepting of taking captaincy in all three formats. I feel honoured. It just gives me more opportunities to take Indian cricket forward, which I think is the best thing to happen to anyone.”
Elaborating further on Dhoni’s batting position in the team, Virat explained, “Now knowing that I’m willing to take up more responsibility, he can be more expressive. But I'm not saying that he will go out there and slog every ball. He’s a smart cricketer and we’ve all seen that.
“But, I think he’ll have a bit more freedom and a bit more assurance knowing that he doesn't have to think twice before attempting a big shot. With Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) coming back into the squad as well in the middle overs, both of them will look to feed off each other’s’ momentum and can play the aggressive role.”
Virat’s success as the Test captain came under more limelight with India reclaiming their No.1 position in the ICC Test rankings. Ask him about his feelings going into the series as a full-time captain, he says, “The kind of cricket we have been playing and the manner in which we have performed in Test cricket, I think we can execute and replicate the same in the shorter formats as well. Like MS said, it’s easier to lead a side in ODIs than in Tests because in Tests you have to be constantly aware of not letting a session run away, because it can eventually impact the outcome of the Test match. In one-dayers, there is more scope for the opposition to commit mistakes, so you can come back into the game even without pushing too much. Honestly, I don’t feel any different. The only thing is I am excited that when I will walk out for the toss tomorrow, I will be India’s full-time captain. Apart from that, I don’t think anything has changed mentally or in terms of environment.”
With a solid top order and world class bowlers lower down in the line-up, Virat throws light on the concerns in the middle order, which were discussed during the team selection. “Yes, that is something we had discussed before picking Yuvi because we cannot have so much burden on MS alone in the middle order. I am willing to take up responsibility up the order, but there needs to be one more guy with him down the order in case the top order doesn’t fire. If the top order doesn’t fire, you are left with MS alone and he is guiding the youngsters often. It is fine if you have 15-20 games till a big tournament, but when you have only three games to prepare for a big tournament, I think you need to get all your resources in place. You need to make sure the guys who have been picked are in good form.”