One look at his two sets of records as captain will make you wonder if it’s the same Virat Kohli who helms the national cricket team and the eternal bridesmaids of IPL, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Even his harshest critics would agree that it’s not for want of effort that Virat has failed to lead the Bengaluru franchise to the elusive IPL crown. He’s had several fruitful seasons with the willow in the world’s biggest domestic Twenty20 league, taking bowlers apart with his scintillating strokeplay. Yet, his heroics have failed to inspire his charges to lift themselves for the larger cause – to be the IPL champions.
Sample this. In 50 Tests as skipper, Virat Kohli has led India to 30 wins, next only to former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who has 35 victories against his name. However, it’s his predecessor in the job, Steve Waugh, who tops the list with 37 wins. In 52 one-day internationals, the Delhi dazzler has led India to 39 wins.
Unflattering record as RCB captain
Contrast this with his captaincy record in the IPL and the difference is not unlike chalk and cheese. Under his stewardship, the Challengers have won just 40 of their 90 matches in the IPL till date. For a man who is his own biggest critic, Kohli would be far from happy with his returns as skipper in the showpiece domestic event.
So, if we have to pinpoint the reason for Virat Kohli’s unflattering record as RCB captain, where should we start? The team, of course. On paper, Kohli has a team that matches, if not betters, the rival franchises in terms of quality and firepower.
In the last edition of the T20 extravaganza, RCB brought in an unmatched mix of Indian and overseas talent in the hope of ending their barren run. While their batting, apart from Kohli himself, had the likes of AB De Villiers, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, Colin de Grandhomme, Shimron Hetmyer and Heinrich Klassen, who are considered dynamites in the shortest format, their bowling had enough firepower in Dale Steyn, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini. Yet, the team finished as wooden spooners in IPL, 2019.
There were big names in the RCB support staff as well. Former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten, who coached India to the 2011 World Cup as well as a run of glorious wins across formats, was named the manager while pace stalwart Ashish Nehra was bowling coach. However, they somehow couldn’t work the magic as the management had hoped.
Individually, too, Virat Kohli had a fantastic IPL season last year, aggregating 464 runs. Chahal finished among the top wicket-takers with 18 scalps. However, even their best, as it turned out, wasn’t good enough to end RCB’s trophy-less run.
A team game
So, what went wrong for the Challengers then?
Perhaps, it’s the fact that all their wealth of talent couldn’t combine often enough on match days to take the team to a win. As is often said about this game: it’s not individuals but the team that matters. And, the RCB came up short when it came to firing as a team.
And, Kohli, as the leader, has to take the blame for failing to turn a super-talented bunch, separated by nationalities, into a cohesive unit.
Desperate to end their dry run, the RCB top bosses have brought in former Australian batsman Simon Katich as head coach this time. One hopes Katich will do what his more illustrious predecessors in the job couldn’t – together with skipper Virat Kohli and the talented pool of players take RCB to an IPL crown.