first_imgIt was a moment of joy for cricket observers in the country when Anil Kumble came on board as India coach. The no-nonsense former captain would join forces with a ruthless and ambitious young captain and two would forge a partnership so daunting that the cricket globe would be intimidated by their presence in a world-beating outfit.And the partnership lived up to its hype. Kumble took over in June 2016 and with Kohli at the helm of affairs in the middle, India would go on to win a Test series in the West Indies and crush every visiting side at home from September to March – a phenomenal run.Yet somewhere in the middle of a series of highs over the last 12 months across formats, there developed a rift between the two that showed its strains during India’s Champions Trophy defence in England.Kumble is said to be intimidating, head masterly and even overbearing and the senior players have not been able to digest that. Ravi Shastri, the former team director, who had to make way for Kumble to take over as coach, was more easy going and was counted upon as a buddy.Both Kumble and Shastri have made immense contributions to Indian cricket and their loyalty to the game is beyond question. They were tough-as-nails on the field and were determined to win at all costs. Losing a game of cricket was never an option for either man. You look at Kohli now and you are reminded of Shastri and Kumble back in their heydays – a victor on the prowl.advertisement AP PhotoKohli has his bases covered as a batsman: he is a modern-day giant and possibly the best chaser in limited-overs history, the failure in the Champions Trophy final against Mohammad Amir notwithstanding. He has with time, also become a batsman of supreme skills in Test cricket. His leadership at home throughout the four Test series against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia was near flawless.The first chinks in the armour appeared in England, far away from the familiar conditions of home. During Sri Lanka’s successful run chase at The Oval, Kohli looked clueless. His bowlers were sent on a wild leather chase by a group of young batsmen and the captain was lost for ideas.Some felt he was late in bringing back the pacers and the move to introduce himself and Kedar Jadhav on a flat pitch against rampaging batsmen was merely a gamble. That gamble paid no dividends and the team was left licking its wounds.Victories over South Africa and Bangladesh saw India through to the final but the bowlers were this time accosted by Pakistan’s hitherho unknown batsmen. Fakhar Zaman stunned Kohli with his unorthodox strokeplay and his bowlers yet again had no answers. They could have seen him off early enough in the piece but Jasprit Bumrah has been slow to learn from his mistakes and another no-ball proved to be costly.And once Zaman and Azhar Ali had got their eyes in, gone was Kohli’s aggressive approach and with that any desire to look for wickets. The two spinners, who had tormented batsmen on slow pitches at home, operated to stem the flow of runs. On a surface that aided shot making, that was a move destined to fail.Jadhav was brought back in the death overs to bowl a quiet over – he did his job by picking up a prized wicket but Kohli got him on for that extra over and Pakistan made merry. By the end of it, 339 were way too many against Pakistan’s potent pace attack.Kohli has also been obsessed with the Yuvraj Singh-MS Dhoni pair in the middle-order. Nobody can dispute the impact they had in their best years but one gets the feeling that they are past their expiry dates. Is Kohli merely hanging on Dhoni for guidance in the middle? Is that the best approach by a captain who is supposed to inspire with his aggression and ruthlessness?Or would Kohli have done himself and the team a favour by bringing in the exuberance of Rishabh Pant, who is banging the doors down for a place in the XI? You could argue Dhoni’s wicket-keeping skills are still at their peak but was he this good with the gloves when he walked in to the team? What if Dhoni does not last the distance for the 2019 World Cup? Would Pant have enough experience to don the gloves in the mega event? Or would they fall back on Dinesh Karthik, who despite his good recent form, is not the best candidate for Mr Consistent.advertisementKohli, the captain has plenty to learn still. He has to be able to take the tough calls as a leader even if it means looking past two of India’s greatest players in ODI cricket.  And who better than Kumble to teach him the tricks of the trade. The coach has had a distinguished career and overseen the transition of Indian cricket at a crucial juncture.Kohli needs to learn and has to learn. There is nobody else to take over as captain for the next several years. Indian cricket needs him as much as it needs Kumble, who has the potential to keep egos in check. Coach Kumble has touched stardom and has come out unaffected by it – he knows the perils instant recognition and riches bring with them.Virat Kohli will serve India for many years as its captain but he has to work in tandem with Kumble for the better part of it. The Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) had apppointed Kumble for a reason – men like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, do not operate without reason and they know who is best placed to handle the young superstars and keep them in line to stay focussed for the gruels of international cricket.Kohli, batsman par excellence, has to stop, think and learn as much as he can from Kumble before the administrators are forced to look away at a new direction.last_img read more