That Virat Kohli is an aggressive captain and likes to play ruthless cricket is known. But his bravado was once again seen in the Third Test when India defeated West Indies at Darren Sammy International Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia to seal the four match series 2-0.
This is Kohli’s third successive Test victory after he took over from Mahendra Singh Dhoni last year in Australia. The previous ones came against South Africa after he defeated Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.
That West Indies was touted to be a weaker opponent compared to giant India with an unstable and in experienced line-up was obvious, but the cliche – cricket is a game of fluctuating fortunes – can hold true any time in Test cricket.
The recent example was the second Test in Jamaica where West Indies drew the rain curtailed match thanks to some solid batting by Roston Chase, who struck a brilliant hundred.
Kohli, however, didn’t want to repeat the mistake of losing out on a win opportunity like he did in the last Test.
Hence, the brave Kohli took a few of gambles this time at St Lucia that turned out to be master strokes. Ok, so many were surprised when the Indian captain did not include the most reliable and dependable Chetestwar Pujara in the line-up. Instead, he chose a failed Test batsman Rohit Sharma over him. Not even the proven stylish batsman Murali Vijay
The other moves that raised eye brows was of dropping the leggie Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav and replace them with Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Though Kohli did not reveal the strategy of picking Rohit over Pujara, but it is said that the captain wanted someone who could accelarate the batting so that India could have upper hand even if it rained.
On the bowling front, Kohli preferred to have variety in pace attack. Bhuvi is a brilliant swing bowler. His addition would make the already dangerous attack of Ishant Sharma and Mohd Shami more dangerous.
Rohit was a dud in the first innings scoring just 9 in 23 balls before edging debutant Alzarri Joseph to the wicket-keeper while fishing outside the off stump as India were folded out for 353 thanks to hundreds from R Ashwin (118) and Wriddhiman Saha (104). There was no play on the third day due to rains. But Rohit bounced back in the second innings when Kohli needed an aggressor. And Rohit did it in style with a quickfire 59-ball 41 with three sixes, finishing second highest scorer to Ajinkya Rahane (78) as India declared at 217/7, giving a target of 346.
Surprisingly, a rushing West Indies, despite having a full day to bat on and confidence of drawing a game from the last match, collapsed for 108 against India’s bowling variety. Kohli & Co won by 237 runs.
Not to forget the contribution from Bhuvneshwar Kumar who was making a Test comeback in the XI after a long time, taking a five wicket haul to dismiss in West Indies’s first innings and dismiss them to 225.
With this kind of bravado in decision making, it not only makes Kohli a ruthless and aggressive captain, but a courageous one too.