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Team India 3.0 – Not tourists but competitors


Virat_Kohli_Mitchell_Johnson_India_Australia_CricketExperts keep saying that the result of a series opener sets the tone for rest of the series. India may have lost the First Test at Adelaide but the way they lost the game, it would be foolish to say that this maybe the tone of the series.

Almost chasing down 364 to win on last day was nothing less than a heist. To add to Australians’ misery, their captain Michael Clarke isn’t fit to play the series, or may never play again. But all that is a separate story. The fact remains Virat Kohli’s caretaker role gave ample proof of his desire to lead from the front.

His field placements, bowling changes may have left a lot to desire, but then there was a bent to do something different, a try to make something happen. Not once it looked he was playing safe. Even after his bowlers were being sent for leather hunt.

And where his team’s strength lied, in batting, he ensured that his side put up a robust exhibition, one that could have easily gone in history books if not for India’s dislike for DRS. Kohli led from the front, an Indian team to score over 350 runs in a day twice, maybe on a perfect batting pitch, but how many times have we folded doing that abroad.

But this match surely showed that Kohli wants the top seat, and he can make this team to be seen as a consistent threat and the best eventually. For a long time now, India on tour has always been short of intent and aggression to back that intent. In MS Dhoni, India no doubt found an astute leader. But in alien conditions, and specifically in longer formats, he has always been running on half tank.

If not for those unusual decisions by umpires Ian Gould and Marais Erasmus, Indian batting looked well in control, Shikhar Dhawan was usual fluent, could not convert starts. Murali Vijay was assured and played the anchors role, Cheteshwar Pujara needed time but settled but couldn’t convert.

Kohli obviously was the best man, like always, and was a class apart. David Warner too may have scored twin centuries, but Kohli’s display in both the innings defined the match’s course. His wicket, in second innings, changed the complexion. Many would have said that it was a careless shot when he got out, but then can anyone show an alternate way to chase down 364?

Ajinkya Rahane has been growing in stature and has obviously overtaken his state mate Rohit Sharma in terms of consistency. So to see most of the Indian batsmen finding the meat of the bat with such consistency shows that grafting was not what the captain ordered for.

For such a long time, Indians have more often than not tried to wage cautious, grinding away battles on tour against top rated attacks in favourable conditions. Knowing that was never going to let them shed the tag of poor tourists, the Indian team went for the offensive and won hearts and respect if not the match.

A few experts did say that India should have played for the draw and throwing caution to the wind handed India a loss, but then if India had won the game, the same experts would have lauded team’s intent to go for the win. Why can’t we accept our team asserting themselves instead of playing the waiting game and surrendering meekly?

Team India’s lets-go-and-get-this-done attitude was far better than we-need-to-follow-the-processes one. This time India looks ready for a fight or a brawl if needed. Dhoni, pull one leaf from Kohli’s just begun chapter and end your glorious journey as Indian skipper with a helicopter shot.

This is Team India 3.0, not travelling as tourists, but as a side that can give its opponents a run for their money, even in their own backyard.

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