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LOVE ‘EM OR HATE ‘EM, YOU CAN’T IGNORE THIS TEAM

Playing to the gallery or playing for media pressure has never been a feature of Kohli’s team, and you have to stand up and admire this trait.

Virat Kohli 4th Test
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane celebrate India's win at The Oval. (Credit: BCCI)

The Indian cricket team has provided plenty of headlines and caused many a headache to fans, the media, cricket pundits, broadcasters, columnists, cricket bloggers and so on. With Virat Kohli at the helm of affairs, you have always got a surprise when it comes to selection calls. Every time the team and the management with Ravi Shastri as the chief coach have been criticised for their playing XIs, they have not listened to any popular opinions and stuck to their gut feeling, right through failures or success.

You have to admire this Indian cricket team for its self-belief, determination, courage and dedication. People have termed this team as arrogant, dictatorial, foolish and useless, among other adjectives, primarily due to some puzzling and, frankly, catastrophic selection calls. However, I truly believe that this team is in fact well-planned and well-prepared in their own rights and based on their research, they take selection calls which result in unpopular opinions a lot of the time.

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Playing to the gallery or playing for media pressure has never been a feature of Kohli’s team, and you have to stand up and admire this trait. In the midst of a very tough tour, they have always stuck to what they feel is right and produced a performance that has kept the world at their feet. Not playing Ravichandran Ashwin has been a subject of massive debate right through the England tour, but Kohli and Shastri have stuck with a four-pacer formula and got the job done.

We as fans of this team demand the highest level of results and that is only fair, given all the facilities that our elite cricketers get. The support of fans that Indian cricketers get all around the globe is unmatchable and that is why there is a demand for an ICC trophy from Kohli and his team. However, there is a section of the mainstream media that is always looking to pull Kohli down and paint him as the bad boy of Indian cricket, which is absolutely bizarre in my opinion.

Virat Kohli aggression
Virat Kohli animatedly celebrates a wicket during the Lord’s win. (Credit: AFP)

Winning an ICC trophy is perhaps the dream of every captain and the same is the case with Kohli. He has always told the media that they are obsessed with this dream and do everything possible to translate this team into reality. However, winning an overseas Test series has also been a dream of fans like us for the last couple of decades. There was a time where we were celebrating a Test win, but now we expect a series win, which shows the growth of this Indian cricket team.

Successive Test series wins in Australia and a 2-1 series lead in England before the fifth and final Test in Manchester was called off. Looking ahead, winning a series for the first time in South Africa would make this Test team one of the greatest, if not the greatest in Indian cricket history. Another superb aspect of this team is its ability to come back from pressure situations. Whether it be winning a series in Australia after the ignominy of 36 all out or storming back to win at The Oval recently after the low of 78 all out at Headingley, this Indian team has shown true character of steel.

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The only thing, perhaps, that this team lacks in terms of trade is the ability to play as favourites. They’re a great team when their backs are upto in the wall and everyone is against them and they have to prove a point to the world. However, when they’re regarded as clear favourites, they haven’t quite matched expectations.

For example, after winning a historic series win in Australia earlier this year, India returned home and lost to England in Chennai. Then, from being 1-0 up in England, they were hammered at Headingley. These kinds of performances don’t do justice to the kind of talent we have in this squad. We should be more ruthless, like the great West Indies of the 1980s and Australia of the late 90s and early 2000s.

Love this Indian cricket team or hate them, but you can’t ignore them. This team is capable of the extraordinary and the below average, but one thing is for certain: the fans, the media, the broadcasters and everyone else involved are on the edge of their seats when this team plays. Forget the unfortunate happenings in Manchester and look forward to the next Test series, Indian team. We are with you, whatever happens.

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