At a time when many have asked the question if Virat Kohli should step dow from the role of captaincy, former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh has stood beside the Indian skipper and said that the team need players who can perform under pressure.
Singh’s former teammate, Gauram Gambhir, has been a strong critic of Kohli and has repeatedly advocated for a change in captaincy in India’s limited-overs team. However, India’s second-highest wicket taker believes otherwise.
“I don’t think Kohli is under any kind of pressure with captaincy, don’t think it’s a burden for him. I think he enjoys those challenges. He is a leader, who leads from the front and sets example for the team to do the needful. For the team to win games,” Harbhajan Singh told India Today.
“I don’t think captaincy is affecting Virat Kohli as it’s obviously one guy cannot win you the game. As I said, even after the World Cup, you know you have Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, standing and taking the team forward and scoring most of the runs,” he added.
KL Rahul, vice-captain in place of the injured Rohit, scored 76 in the match, sharing a 72-run partnership with Kohli and then a 63-run stand with Hardik Pandya.
“It’s good to see KL (Rahul) performing but you need couple of more guys consistently doing well for Team India. So, the pressure can shift off a little bit from Virat so that he can bat freely, he can do what he needs and also enjoy the game,” said Harbhajan.
After India lost the first and second ODI against Australia, Gambhir attacked Kohli’s captaincy again and criticised him for misusing Jasprit Bumrah.
“I can’t understand the captaincy to be honest. We kept talking about how important it was to take wickets upfront, if you have to stop this kind of batting line-up and then you make your premier bowler bowl two overs,” Gautam Gambhir said in a video posted on ESPNCricinfo.
“Normally, in a one-day game, probably there are three spells and you finish 10 overs — 4,3,3 — or probably the maximum is four overs. But if you stop your premier fast bowler just by bowling two overs upfront with the new ball, I can’t understand that kind of captaincy and I can’t even explain that captaincy,” he added.
India on Saturday suffered second defeat at the hands of Australia to lose the three-match ODI series. Following their 66-run defeat in the first match, the Virat Kohli-led side lost by 51 runs in the second ODI in Sydney.
Chasing a mammoth 390-run target, India looked to be on course for a fight but could manage not more rhan 338/9.
Kohli soldiered on with KL Rahul before falling to a brilliant catch, this time by Henriques himself, at midwicket again off Josh Hazlewood. Kohli made 89 off 87 balls, putting up partnerships of 93 with Iyer and 72 with Rahul.