Dec 172012

Virat Kohli celebrates his third century in Tests, India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 3rd day, December 15, 2012Sunil Gavaskar says Virat Kohli’s responsible ton showed he has grown © BCCI

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Players/Officials: Sunil Gavaskar | Virat Kohli
Matches: India v England at Nagpur
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India

Virat Kohli, the 24-year-old batsman, is ready to take over the India Test captaincy from MS Dhoni, according to former India captain Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar’s comments came in wake of India’s 2-1 Test series loss to England, their first at home in eight years.

Kohli’s dogged century in Nagpur, which helped lift a wobbling India to within four runs of England’s first-innings total, showed he was ready for the added responsibility, Gavaskar told NDTV. “Till the fourth day of the Nagpur Test, I would have backed Dhoni. Now that Virat has come up with a hundred under trying circumstances where he curbed his natural game, he discovered a good part about himself.

“He is ready to take on the mantle of Test cricket [captain]. That needs to be looked at in a positive manner by everyone concerned, as that is where the future lies.”

India were looking to win in Nagpur to deny England their first Test series win in India in 28 years. Instead, England finished on a comfortable 352 for 4 on the final day and the Test ended in a draw. It was an impressive comeback from England: India had won the first Test of the series in Ahmedabad by nine wickets, before the visitors rallied and completely outplayed them in the next two. This series loss rounds off a poor 18 months in Test cricket for India, during which they were whitewashed in England and Australia.

In this must-win Test, after India’s lower-order inexplicably batted at a slow pace on the fourth morning, they could take only three England wickets in 79 overs on the day. England went to stumps 165 ahead, and could still have been under pressure had India struck early on the final day. However, India managed only one wicket in the day, that too in the final session.

In view of their dire need to win, Gavaskar said, India should have been proactive. “India could not get enough wickets on day four. Also, they doodled around in the first hour on day four. If India had wanted to win the Test, they could have shown some intent by declaring on the overnight total [on day three] or by asking the tailenders to play slam-bang cricket.

“Yes, England batted well. But you do not position a forward-short leg or silly point to get a catch there; you do that to force a batsman to give a catch some place else. Trott or Bell might have done something stupid then. India could have attacked more. But that’s not the only reason India lost. Our bowlers were by and large ineffective.”

Gavaskar also hinted at some of the senior India players not valuing Test cricket enough. “Looking at the Jadeja’s, the Kohli’s … you can easily see there is recognition, an appreciation there for Test cricket. It is some of the guys who have been around, who have done well in the past that are being a bit casual about it over the last couple of years.”