VVS Laxman and Michael Clarke in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)
New Delhi: VVS Laxman has described Virat Kohli a positive captain who has turned India into a ruthless team capable of beating any side in the world.
Predicting that India would defeat Australia 4-1 in the upcoming ODI series, Laxman said that the team has improved remarkably under Kohli in the last one year.
“The way Kohli leads the team shows how positive and proactive he is. Kohli is ruthless in his approach and this team is looking to improve on their own… They are actually not looking at the rivals. These guys wish to achieve their own goals. I don’t see any weak link in this team,” Laxman said on Tuesday.
Laxman and former Australia captain Michael Clarke spoke during a media interaction on the forthcoming India-Australia series.
Clarke, who did not entirely agree with Laxman’s views and said that the visitors could clinch the series 3-2, called Kohli a top batsman of limited-overs cricket.
“Kohli is a better ODI batsman… Just that. (Steve) Smith is better in the longer format. Captaincy wise, both are improving. At the moment, I would put Kohli on top in the captaincy battle as his team is winning,” he said.
But Clarke, at the same time, pointed out that the current Indian trend of playing aggressive cricket was started by former captain Sourav Ganguly.
“To be honest, I must say that Sourav deserves a lot of credit for the environment he created. He never took a backward step… He had the aggression and the toughness. That has been transferred to… (Anil) Kumble, (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, Kohli… They have all done it in their own way. Led by an aggressive skipper, they are not afraid to lose. But credit must go to Sourav for starting it,” he said.
“This Indian team has got the right amount of aggression to be world-beaters. A tour to India always throws up tough challenges to a visiting side. For Australia, it’s very important to do well against India and take that confidence into the Australian summer as we gear up for the Ashes,” Clarke added.
When it comes to comparing the two opposite captains, Laxman has no doubt that Kohli stands far ahead of Smith.
“Kohli is a better captain and while they are both young, Smith wasn’t very proactive during the Test series. Kohli also has the advantage of having someone like Dhoni in the team. Kohli leads by example and is the better skipper than Smith at the moment,” he said.
“Look at the ODI series in Sri Lanka… How brilliantly he used the three young spinners (Yuzvendra Chahal, Akshar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav) to whitewash the Lankans. That shows that Kohli is a better captain,” he added.
Laxman is happy with the way some Indian players have returned after recovering from injuries.
“I am really impressed with the comeback that (Shikhar) Dhawan could make. Rohit (Sharma) has been equally impressive. But the player who has impressed me the most is Hardik (Pandya). He is exciting and is fulfilling the role of a finisher to the tee. If only he can get a bit more consistent with the bowling, he will be even better,” he said.
Asked what he thought of Ravichandran Ashwin continuing to play County cricket when the national selectors said the spinner was given “rest”, Laxman said it is about policies.
“After the Champions Trophy, the selection committee took a policy. They wanted to have a look at some of the wrist spinners, which would add variety to the attack.
“I sincerely believe that Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja have been communicated to by the selectors. The selectors must have told both of them that they want to try two wrist spinners, who are very talented.
“They will get to play against a top quality side like Australia. It doesn’t mean that Ashwin or Jadeja have been dropped,” said the former Test star.
“Similarly, it’s an opportunity for Lokesh Rahul, Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey to seal middle-order spots. I believe the message has been conveyed by the selectors to middle-order specialist Yuvraj Singh about his chances of returning to the side.
“There is tough competition for each and every position. Talking about the Australians, they have depth in their batting line-up, but their bowling department is weak and inexperienced,” he added.