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Reminiscing Virat’s Glorious Moments of Test Captaincy: An End of an Era at the Beginning of the Year

24-hours after losing the 3rd Test against South Africa, Virat Kohli stepped down from Test captaincy after gifting India a record 40-wins in the Red Ball Format.

It was pretty much a normal Saturday evening (15-01-22), when probably everyone was positioned in their living areas sipping from their cup of hot brewing tea and the clock showed the time around 6:30. Anybody who had turned to their mobile phones at that time hearing the notification sound must have been struck with a 1000 bolt of lightning. The news of the hour, trending everywhere was the post shared by Virat Kohli.

Virat Kohli Stepped down Test captaincy:

It wasn’t any normal post, rather it was the post where Kohli clearly mentioned about him stepping down from Test captaincy of India. What and why was this happening? Are we officially witnessing here the end of Virat era of “Play to Win”? All sorts of similar questions must have clouded our heads trying to figure out what conspiracy must have been laid, somebody must have done something evil and what not did we think in order to make sense of this ongoing madness.

Let’s take a pause from all that and look back at these wonderful years under Virat Kohli and re-live those magnificent moments which are the very best events in the history of Indian test cricket.

Ms Dhoni handed Virat Kohli the Test captaincy:

Once we start taking a trip down the memory lane, we get transported back to December 30,2014 (the day after MCG Boxing test) were it all started. MSD startled everyone with his decision of retirement from test cricket with immediate effect and eventually the baton passed onto the young boy from Delhi. The Test ended in a draw, India lost the series to Australia – fourth in a row following defeats in South Africa, New Zealand, and England in that one-year tenure with them winning a single Test across the four tours finding themselves at 7th position only ahead of countries like West Indies, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe.

With Sachin, Zaheer and Sehwag bidding adieu to the cricketing world one could smell the dawn of a new era led from front by Kohli. Situations as far as the Test team was concerned did not look polished as it looks today. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav had not converted their potential to match winning performances. R Ashwin desperately wanted to perform in alien conditions after a stupendous start to his Test career at home, while Ravindra Jadeja was still struggling in the first-class cricket to make a comeback.

Virat Kohli: A Don Wins The Era With Energy & Excellence

Kohli had a huge dream but was it enough:

Kohli who by this time had proved his mettle as the best white-ball batsman was going through a rough patch in his batting when he took the captaincy from MSD. But little did we know that in five years’ time from then, he would lead India to the top of ICC rankings, win back-to-back series in Sri Lanka and West Indies, become the first Asian captain to win a series Down Under and lead India to unprecedented dominance at home extending their unbeaten run to 14 consecutive series since 2013. 

 All Started back in South Africa 2018:

Over the years the aggression, the penultimate fitness and the undying spirit for the game especially for Test cricket instilled by Kohli in the Indian team was put on display when India faced south Africa at Johannesburg in 2017. It was the first time when Indian team was looking straight into the opponent’s eye and putting up a hard to knock down performance in any of the SENA countries. Our captain took a bold decision of batting first on that minefield like pitch and went on to win that Test match by 63 runs! We lost the freedom trophy but Indian fans who had watched that match live knew how special this team is going to be.

Fast Bowling is an Art & the Artists are those Tired Labours

The fast bowling has been sensational and all together India looked like a new team with that added dimension. May be the first time India had gobbled up all the wickets in a series and the majority of them shared by the pacers. World saw the very glimpses of today’s pace-gun Jasprit Bumrah who took a fifer on his debut series. More good test cricket to follow in England!

4-1 to England was just the worst trailer of a blockbuster:

With making statement already in SA now we reached England. The first Test at Edgbaston was a close fought one where eventually England won but only by a margin of 31 runs. Virat’s master class knock of 149 followed by 51 was a beacon of light amidst India’s batting darkness. The bowlers too rose up-to the occasion and took 20 wickets in that test. We lost the series in England too but we fell in love with team India; one inch more. All matches were close and the hosts really had to work doubly hard to win it from us, something we as fans seldom saw in foreign countries but now since SA was becoming a trend. We loved this trend!

Australia wasn’t ready for Virat the Captain- not to mention the batter:

Finally, we are at Australia (2018-19) when ultimately India registered its first ever series win at SENA. Virat’s men had clinched the Border-Gavaskar trophy with perfect dominance and we fans enjoyed Pujara’s masterclass batting along with sheer fast bowling by our pacers. Many might argue that it was a weak Australian team to beat with no Warner and Smith but keep in mind Australia at their den with any team they play is always dangerous and they had the most lethal bowling attack of that time in Lyon, Hazelwood, Strac and world number one Cummins. These guys will never ever make win easy for you and that is where you realize the greatness of Cheteshwar Pujara.

Virat Kohli was making test cricket look stylish! In India where maximum audience is inclined towards white ball cricket, Virat who was the white-ball giant himself showed us all the value of test cricket, how attractive it is and the importance of winning/dominating tests at SENA soil. One will remember his legacy to be the time when India produced its most lethal pace-attack and made a statement to the world that you can no longer give us bouncy or trampoline like pitches because we now have got it in us to out bowl you at your den. We no longer can be taken easy!!!

The policy of “Play to Win, Forget about Loss”:

Virat had introduced this policy of win at all cost. Losing while trying to win is acceptable but not trying to win and taking an easy way out that is draw was not acceptable to him at all! And that is where he along with Ravi Shastri and Bharat Arun, his two lieutenants, brought the 5-bowler concept to the table instead of 7-batsmen. We all know however well you bat at the end of the day you need to take consistent 20 wickets in order to win the test match. That is why we saw Virat backing Ravindra Jadeja or a Shardul Thakur like all rounders who could bat as well as give you crucial overs with the ball as well.

Virat was the aspiring leader and role model in all possible ways. The major contributing factor of his was passion. The way he expressed himself on the field, produced those dramas in taking scuffles on the ground for the team, created a theatre in the middle where he would be the lead actor, all of these would excite us in our living rooms and made us energetic as hell! It engaged more people with passion to their Tv screens and now slowly a predominantly white-ball loving nation has found their long-lost love for red-ball once again! Virat has now emerged as the test cricket ambassador in world cricket.

2021 Australia showed How this Indian team had bathed in Virat’s culture:

After brief break in 2020 for Covid we landed straight in 2021 and what laid in front of us was the most anticipated Border-Gavaskar trophy. Aussies were desperate as hell to get their trophy back and as Virat would return to county after first test at Adelaide they thought there would not be any better chance.

India’s Tour of Australia 2020-21: The Test of Bests Defining Team Spirit

First test was a debacle with India having a humiliating second innings of 36-9 and with Virat returning to India for the birth of his first child it seemed India was doomed in this spiral web of darkness.

But little did we realize that even if Kohli was gone his legacy was built and his policy of win no matter what had already been imbibed in the youngsters. A young Rishabh ,Gill , Siraj eyed only on the win, draw was something that appeared out of their dictionary. They never cared what history Gabba holds and that was the reason in style they could breach that fortress at ease. Aussies had no excuse to put forward as with Smith and Warner back in team along with that pace-attack they really couldn’t have called themselves weak.

Virat perhaps was a proud father of his new-born daughter and young team India.

 Winning at home is totally a different page of the book:

 Virat is now back in the team at home to take on the English visitors. But why do we talk about this episode? Is game in India does not mean India has to win?  Yes, surely who doesn’t want to win at home but with over mounting pressure of the huge audience it is not that easy as it might seem. After team lost to Joe Root batting prowess and Anderson masterclass, the way they bounced back harder was commendable and noteworthy in every aspect.

Yes, we heard a lot on our rank turner pitches by the pundits of the game but every argument was put to rest when Ashwin at press conference had very correctly pointed out how India never complained about overseas green tops (England) and bouncy tracks (Australia), minefields at SA given to us time and again. What we did instead was made ourselves equipped to fight there!

Winnings in Lord’s in 150-minutes:

Winning England series at home we became the finalist for WTC along with NZ. Though WTC wasn’t a sweet episode in Virat reign but that doesn’t at all take away India’s glory one bit! We came back harder at English boys at their den and once again created history at lords. That passionate Kohli in lords fourth innings who pumped up the whole team with every falling English wicket is an irreplaceable character not only in India but world cricket as well.

Then 2021 came to a bang on end with breaching the third fortress for the year at centurion and all Indian fans were like what more do we want- nothing!

A 5th Day England Collapse Hands India an Extra-ordinary Lord’s Win:

Year 2021 belonged to Virat Kohli, the leader:

We eventually lost the freedom series to SA but few aberrations don’t malign the legacy. One should constructively criticize the poor batting performances and not up to the mark bowling performances in the last test but questioning Virat’s captaincy is not correct. Questioning a 7-year-old legacy because of few debacles aren’t justified at all.

Twitter/ESPNcricinfo

Over the past 3-4 months we have seen a vulnerable Virat which probably none of us thought we would ever see. Life is indeed a circle.

The 5-year Cycle is over:

It was on 15th Jan 2017 Virat scored his century at Pune after becoming captain in all 3 formats and its 15th Jan 2022 when he resigns from all format cricket captaincy by stepping down as test captain!

From down in the doldrums when he took over the reins, Kohli has taken this side to an impeccable winning unit at home and near favorites wherever they play away. And for that Kohli deserves to be celebrated as the finest leader India have ever had in the format. Many came and many have gone but its Virat who kept his word! He indeed transformed India into powerhouse of Test cricket.

 The World will be going to keep thank Virat Kohli for keeping Test Cricket as the Apple’s eye.

 

 

 

 

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