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Virat Kohli's Art of Picking Perfect 11

As this cricketing article being written, there is a live test match going on between India and South Africa at Wanderers cricket ground at Johannesburg.

Virat Kohli has bought back Ajinkya Rahane in the team and dropped the much celebrated off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

As always the cricket experts in India and Indian media is out with all the loaded guns and firing shots after shots at kohli.

This time question is not - Why Ajinkya Rahane, the batsmen with best overseas record in India (not true in reality), is not included in 11? But, it is - Why Ravichandran Ashwin is not in 11.

He not only picked wickets but batted well too, says critics of kohli.

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin dropped from 11

Thankfully, Virat Kohli is a personality who never gets bogged down  by outside influence and take his own decisions. As he himself said in a fiery press conference at the end of last test match - "We don't pick 11 based on results".

That time he dropped slow medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (bhuvi), and got nailed by media and experts, but as always ended up being right. Right? Yes. Those who haven't done it yet, read why virat kohli was right in dropping Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Virat Kohli is a captain under which Indian cricket team has had a stellar record. When it comes to winning macthes he is way ahead of any of India's past captains despite not having as talented or as experienced team at his disposal.

So when Indian media and experts like VVS Laxman and Aakash Chopra says that he makes mistakes after mistakes when it comes to captaincy, one has to ask - How come he has the best record as a captain?

How virat kohli is already the best captain of Indian cricket team? How he has been able to bring his team back into the series and win them many times despite India loosing first test match of a series

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli all smiles after India finishes of South Africa
in 3rd test at Johannesburg

Fact is what people say about Virat Kohli is far from reality. Not only he is a shrewd captain, he has the art of picking best 11 too.

You can't win that many matches without taking right decisions. Luck does have a part to play in game of cricket but surely it can't be only luck that has seen Kohli's team win 9 series in a row and so many one day internationals too.

In India, if a captain picks 11 not similar to your own 11, it is considered as a mistake of captain. And no matter what the end result would be, even if India wins a match, mistake will remain a mistake.

"We pick eleven based on conditions," says Kohli, and that's how it should be.

It is very clear that even 20 runs here and there would make a difference in final outcome of the test match being played live at the moment between India and South Africa, on under prepared green top picth at johannesburg.

Batting against pace and seam is so difficult that batsmen are praying to have a bit of spinner. Ask Hashim Amla, the south african number 3 batsmen, who says it is the most difficult pitch he has ever played on (pujara says same), what he will want to prefer batting against on this pitch - Pace or Spin?

And the answer would be spin.

But some Indian experts were critcising kohli at the start of the match for not picking number 1 off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Especially, Murali Karthik (former left arm spinner of India) said it's illogical. He was of the view that India picked 11 seeing what South Africa did with their team (who also dropped their left arm spinner Keshav Maharaj).

Murali Kartik and Ajay Jadeja
Murali Kartik and Ajay Jadeja criticise Kohli for dropping Ashwin


Do you really think that a captain as successful as Kohli would pick his team seeing what his opposite captain does?

Imagine, had kohli played 11. Given the conditions it would have been disastrous. It would have been a disaster stroke in the context of the game.

Being number 1 spinner, Kohli, if picked ashwin in 11,  as a captain would have been forced to give Ashwin a longish spell, for if he hadn't done so, he would have been serverly criticized for not bowling Ashwin and giving him a long spell in the match.

Even back at home when Kohli does give Ashwin longish spell, but sometimes bring back Umesh Yadav or Shami to take advantage of reverse swing, he is profusely criticised by likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, and Sanjay Manjrekar on regular basis.

But if Aswhin had went for few, which he would have on this track, same critics would have asked Kohli different questions. And you know them.

It's high time that the Indian media and so called Indian cricket experts show some belief in Kohli's captaincy. After a long long time India has got a captain who is excited about leading his team outside subcontinent and is excited.

The fire burning inside kohli must be utilized to burn shortcomings in Indian cricket. Criticism of Kohli only for the sake of it will not only be detrimental to Indian cricket in more than one way, it will also unfortunately ensure that future captains will not harness courage to lead the team in a way they wan't, and will be like same failed so called cool Indian captains of past (with goodish records at home and rubbish records overseas).

Kohli has the art of picking perfect 11, and that fact should be respected and belief more should be shown in him as he shows in his own team.

His decisions like to pick 3 fast bowlers, even on perceived turning tracks by experts, like at Kolkata, have all helped India to make crucial breakthroughs and win the series. Even than Sanjay Manjrekar, former Indian batsmen who has longer career talking cricket than playing cricket kept critcising Kohli, by saying "India is better of bowling spinners than pace bowlers in India."

Manjrekar obviously never has had vision like Kohli, who was actually keeping fast  bowlers in game and having them ready for much awaited away tours. It's always easy to get critical when you don't have any sense of context.

Now, we can see Indian fast bowlers creating havoc in South Africa. Much credit must be given to Virat Kohli who has always kept them in play even as India has played much of their cricket in subcontinent in recent past.

We saw former captains keep going on with spinners in India and using pace bowlers only as time pass, to only cry later on on overseas tour and making excuses and blamin fast bowlers for not performing and for not picking 20 wickets. But Kohli will never do that. He has his pacers ready for overseas assignments as he has respected them and made them important part of Indian 11.

Meanwhile, kohli has also shown that when it comes to deciding on what to do on green top wickets after winning the toss, he is master there too.

He realized that pitch will be uneven as the match progresses and rightly decided to bat first. He made sure that low in confidence Indian batsmen don't get to bat last on a bad pitch under pressure.

This decision is also termed illogical by experts in Indian cricket. But as result will prove, it isn't.


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