MS Dhoni has been one of the leading captains of his generation. As a skipper he has won all the major trophies that there are to win. However, the pressure of being the leading batsman and wicket keeper for years – he has been playing almost non-stop since his debut in 2004 – may be taking a toll on his captaincy and it is conceivable that after the 2015 World Cup he may be forced to call it quits in at least one format and it looks very likely that it will be in Tests. The question is who his successor would be.
There are several names doing the rounds a few years back like Gautam Gambhir, who now finds himself out of contention for a place in the national side following a string of less than decent displays, and Suresh Raina, who is a mainstay in the shorter forms but out of favour in red ball cricket. So, at the moment Kohli looks set to be the man to take over the mantle of captaincy from Dhoni as and when he calls it a day as a skipper. Now, in this particular context one would feel like asking how suitable would he be as a captain.
One of the basic yardsticks to judge the quality of a captain is his standard as a player. In Australia it is said that if you are not the best player in your team you should not lead the side. As far as Kohli goes, he is the best batsman in the side and his place in the team is beyond doubt irrespective of the form. Now coming to his leadership qualities, the first question would be will he be a successful captain. In his favour, Kohli is yet to lose a series as a captain. However, till date he has primarily captained against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and a depleted Sri Lanka at home. That, though, should not be held against him considering the fact the team had to get on the pitch and perform well enough to win the series.
Kohli is aggressive like Saurav Ganguly
Kohli is an aggressive young man and much like Saurav Ganguly he is expected to bring that aggression into play when he gets his first proper run as the skipper. Kohli is one of the few batsmen in the world, let alone India, who thrive in the pressure of run chase. That shows he has the acumen to understand a situation and act according to the same, something that could come in handy as the leader. This was evident during his first series as captain in Zimbabwe when he stated time and again that he wanted to win the series 5-0. He understood with the lowly standing of the African nation in world cricket, it would be a sacrilege if such a scoreline could not be achieved and that is praiseworthy indeed.
Kohli is also someone who backs his players. During the Zimbabwe series when Parvez Rasool was not played even after the series was won in the first three games, Kohli reasoned that Rasool would have to wait his turn just as Amit Mishra – who at that time was being preferred to the Kashmir allrounder – had done before he received continued opportunities. While many people were aghast at his explanation, it also showed that he was firm in his conviction and was willing to do what it takes to win. One feels that this result-oriented nature as opposed to Dhoni who is prone to letting the game meander – especially in Tests – would be something that will help Kohli create his own special place in the pantheon of Indian captains.