India lost a feisty Perth Test to Australia with captain Kohli and his counterpart Tim Paine embroiled in numerous verbal clashes. The Indian skipper has been criticised for his behavior and his confrontational approach to the game.
But Whatmore, who was in Dubai to oversee a special winter training camp by Kricket’s Spero, said what happened in the Perth Test was within permissible limits and Kohli shouldn’t change the approach that has brought him and India so much success.
When asked if things had gone too far when it came banter between the sides, Whatmore – talking to Sport360 – said: “Absolutely not. It’s a storm in a tea cup. If you look at the banter that happened between the two captains, it was done right in front of the umpire. Did the umpires take any action? No. So let’s just move on. It was interesting for other people to look at and write about.”
Former Australia Test cricketer Whatmore, who has coached various teams like Sri Lanka and Pakistan with distinction, believes Kohli does not need to behave any differently.
Just my opinion, like it or not 👍🏼 https://t.co/2jbd3R6ONG— Mitchell Johnson (@MitchJohnson398) December 18, 2018
“I don’t think (Kohli should behave differently). Kohli has had tremendous success as a leader with his performances on the field for India. Why would you want to change that?”
Whatmore, who is currently coaching the Kerala state Ranji Trophy team in India, said it was harsh to suggest India need to have a relook at their leadership group if they fail to succeed in the remaining Tests. Former captain Sunil Gavaskar has said that the Indian management led by Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri made selection blunders in South Africa, England and now in Australia and that the board needs to see if the team is benefiting from their leadership group.
“That’s a bit harsh,” Whatmore said. “It’s an easy game when you watch it on the TV. Commentators and those who write in the papers, are paid to do that. It makes for good reading when it comes from Gavaksar, the same man who is good friends with Shastri.”
Many cricket experts and fans believe India made a mistake by going in with four fast bowlers in the Perth Test following injury to off-spinner Ravi Ashwin and think someone like a Ravindra Jadeja would have offered more reliable spin and batting depth than pacer Umesh Yadav. But Whatmore does not think it was that big a mistake.
“India went with four fast bowlers instead of three and one spinner. Kohli is getting it from the Indian press from all quarters. I don’t think it was that much of a mistake. Jadeja is a different spinner to (Nathan) Lyon. We will never know. Maybe it would have helped their batting but you wouldn’t pick a spinner for his batting. I don’t think they deserve the criticism that they have been getting,” the 64-year-old added.
Heading into India‘s overseas slate of South Africa, England, and Australia, a stretch of tours that began with the New Year’s Test in South Africa in January, and culminates at the end of the ongoing series in Australia, all eyes were, as always, on Virat Kohli.
His record in away Tests, and especially in England, was under scrutiny. Over the past year, however, he’s conquered all conditions – as a batsman, at least. But as a captain and match-winner, the numbers make for grim reading.
Kohli has managed four centuries in 10 Tests across these three tours, but only one – against England at Trent Bridge – has come in a winning cause, with the other three all ending in India losses.
He’s made 11 in 27 overseas Tests overall against South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia (SENA), but only one, that 103 at Trent Bridge this year, has come in a win.
And Kohli, the master of a chase in limited-overs cricket, hasn’t been able to translate that skill into Tests this year.
He averages just 26.40 in six fourth-innings chases across these three tours, with no 100s and two 50s. That’s a far cry from his overall fourth-innings average against these four countries overseas, which is a respectable 47.84.
India’s batsmen in general have been poor at chases in Tests across their last three away series. Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul are the only ones to have fourth-innings centuries, with both hitting the three-figure mark at the Oval in September.
Largely on the back of that knock of 114, Pant has India’s highest overseas fourth-innings average this year, at 54, and Rahul’s average of 33.20 is also almost entirely down to that Oval century, which accounted for 149 of his 166 overseas fourth-innings runs in 2018.
Ajinkya Rahane is the only other batsman to have averaged 30 or more, coming in at exactly 30, but with just one fifty.
While Kohli would be disappointed with his own record, the most shocking statistic belongs to Cheteshwar Pujara. India’s current No 3 is often compared to Rahul Dravid, his predecessor in the position.
Dravid’s fourth-innings in away Tests for India against SENA countries was 44.42. This year, Pujara has averaged 6.4.
Former India batsman-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar has called captain Virat Kohli the main instigator of verbal clashes in the ongoing Test series against Australia.
Kohli has had numerous run-ins with Australia captain Tim Paine in the second Test in Perth and the two even came close to bumping into each other as tensions escalated.
Kohli has been heard on the stump mic having a go at Paine with the Aussie calling him a ‘big head’. On Monday, Paine even ‘asked’ India opener Murali Vijay if he genuinely likes Kohli as a person.
However, former batsman Manjrekar said it is Kohli who has been the main instigator of the verbal war this series and believes Kohli gets away with a lot because he is a star player.
“That last gesture, Virat Kohli coming in the way of Tim Paine, that was completely uncalled for,” Manjrekar told broadcaster Sony Six. “Actually, what if Kohli was not a such a great player getting all the runs that he does — some of his antics and behaviour on the field would have created quite a bit of stir and got lot more criticism. It’s just that he is such a champion batsman, people are sort of accepting that.”
Manjrekar said Kohli has been responsible for the all-out verbal war between the teams.
“In this Test match, in this series so far, the guy who has been most aggravated on the field on both sides has been the Indian captain. He can get runs despite having this kind of approach to cricket,” Manjrekar added.
“I mentioned Virat Kohli, the brand and that’s why he gets away with a lot of things. Lot of people haven’t talked about his reaction after he was given out [on Sunday]. Any other player – low profile name – I am sure would have got some kind of a warning from the referee.”