Former India opening batsman Gautam Gambhir believes the squad missed regular captain Virat Kohli during the Johannesburg Test, wherein the visitors lost by 7 wickets to tie the series. Kohli, who led the side to a 113-run victory in Centurion, was forced to miss the 2nd test due to an upper back spasm, triggering a last-minute change in captaincy with KL Rahul.
Gambhir believes that regardless of his current form, Kohli is a key asset in the team’s wheel and would be missed for both his captaincy and batting responsibilities. He further said that Rahul, the skipper, will progress as he spends too much time in the position. Importantly, this was Rahul’s debut Test as skipper.
“We definitely missed Virat Kohli the batsman. Steve Smith, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, Rohit Sharma, these are the type of batters you miss. And it is difficult to find their replacement, no matter what form they are in, because the expectation remains that they will score those big runs. But Kohli the captain, we missed him as well because he is so experienced and things turn simpler for experienced captains because they have been around for long,” he said during a conversation.
KL Rahul, the more time he spends, the better he will learn: Gambhir
Gambhir addressed the contrast between leadership in white-ball and red-ball cricket. He believes that, unlike white-ball leadership, when a captain must focus mainly on field placements to obtain wickets, the skipper in Test cricket must “buy the wickets.”
“But KL Rahul, the more time he spends, the better he will learn, but the faster he learns the better it is. This is not like ODI or T20I captaincy, which is far easier because you don’t have to focus much on field placements,” Gambhir noted.
“In Test cricket you need to buy the wickets, sometimes even gamble with your choices. Like in the case of Bavuma, had he placed three slips instead of keeping one at the cover and tempt him into playing the drive maybe there could have been an opportunity for caught behind. But he kept a deep point which was a defensive mindset and it is something that he should be told about. You need to be an aggressive captain, not by attitude, but with your field placements,” he added.
However, Kohli is anticipated to return to the crease in the 3rd and final Test in Cape Town, which is set to begin on January 11, as India targets their historic series win in the SA.