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WTC Final: What went wrong for India in Southampton

After losing the Test mace to the Black Caps, Virat Kohli is now hinting at reassessment and replanning in the Test squad
Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli.
File Photo.

Prabhjeet Singh Sethi   |   Published 24.06.21, 01:35 PM

Virat Kohli’s wait for an ICC title as captain is becoming painstakingly long. Before losing the World Test Championship final to New Zealand on Wednesday, Kohli’s India have suffered the heartbreak of crashing out of the 2019 World Cup semi-final and losing to arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy summit showdown.  What could’ve possibly been a draw, with the title being shared between the two teams, ended up being another thorn in Kohli’s flesh. 

After a cautious start to the day, Kohli was outsmarted by Kyle Jamieson, Cheteshwar Pujara continued his unimpressive run, failing to bag enough runs since February. The rest of the batting line-up, especially Rishabh Pant, was hungry for quick runs, probably sticking to a team plan that didn’t work well against a seasoned Black Caps bowling line-up. Desperately pressing for a win, and going against the organic nature of the game, is probably where things went out of hand for Virat and company.

Shubman Gill has managed scores of 28 and 8 in the two innings, and with only seven Test matches under his belt, the Indian thinktank could’ve made way for Mayank Agarwal, who has an average of 45.73 in 14 Test matches. While Ishant Sharma toiled his way to only three wickets in the entire Test match, Bhuvneshwar Kumar came to mind. Kumar’s ability to swing the ball in such conditions is well known. Even if he wasn’t selected for the entire tour of England reportedly for fitness concerns, wasn’t the WTC final the occasion for India to put their best foot forward? After all, he has two five-fors in England in only five Tests. 

Kohli’s stump mic conversation with Ravichandran Ashwin went, “Ash, we get 2 for 15, and then we have fun.” The optimism faded into disappointment as Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor stitched together an eight-wicket win, which came as relief for the Black Caps after losing the 2019 World Cup final against England. After the game, Kohli said, “I am not in absolute agreement of deciding the best Test side in the world over the course of one game. If it is a Test series, it has to be a test of character over three Tests - which team has the ability to come back in the series, or totally blow away the other team. It can't just be pressure applied over two days of good cricket and then you suddenly you are not a good Test side anymore. I don't believe in it.”

Kohli also compared India’s white ball sides to India’s Test set-up, and hinted at some reassessment and replanning. “You have to reassess and replan and understand what dynamics work for the team and how we can be fearless. Bring in the right people who have the right mindset to perform,” he said.

Kohli became the Test captain in 2014. And the World Test Championship started back in August 2019, with 71 Test matches and 27 series involving nine teams. We hope it isn't too late to reassess and replan.



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