India v/s Australia: Keep the faith, Virat Kohli way

India captain has persisted with Yadav and Chahal even when they are being belted around and therein lies secret to their success

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India v/s Australia: Keep the faith, Virat Kohli way
Kuldeep Yadav has blossomed under Virat Kohli ever since making his India debut in early 2017


    The scorecards of all the three ODIs against India present a flattering case of success of India's two wrist-spinners. However, what it doesn't show is the faith their captain Virat Kohli posed in these bowlers and persisted with them even when they were being taken apart by the batsmen.

    Kohli has shown ample signs in the ongoing ODI series against Australia that he not only backs players at the top of their games, but also those who are up against a challenge.

    In two of the three ODIs so far, captain Kohli's two most potent weapons in his bowling attack – chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal – were put under the pump by the Aussie batsmen for some period of time. And yet, captain Kohli trusted them to turn the tide in their as well as the team's favour in both those phases.

    In the third ODI in Indore on Sunday, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith were milking the Indian spinners with a surprising sense of aplomb in the middle overs. The two wrist-spinners, who had gotten too used to bamboozling the Aussies on spin-friendly pitches in the first couple of ODIs, were struggling to break the defence of the Aussie duo on a batsman-friendly Holkar Stadium track.

    Not just break their defence, but even stem the flow of runs. Finch was having little trouble in dispatching the two Indian tweakers, particularly Yadav.

    In the 30th and 34th overs of the Aussie innings that Yadav sent down, Finch smacked a six and a four each in both the overs. Another maximum ensued in Yadav's next, and his figures at that stage read 7-0-55-0.

    Yadav's body language after the latest six by Finch was as flat as his deliveries, and it could have been reason enough for Kohli to take his under-fire and under-confident bowler off and replace him with either of his two strike pacers who could at least block the run-flow, if not get a wicket.

    Kohli thinking defensively? Nay.

    He is decorated with a different mettle, one that loves to throw down the gauntlet on himself as well as his boys.

    Kohli asked Yadav to bowl another over, giving his bowler belief that his captain had his back. Result? Yadav had Finch caught at deep midwicket, and in his following over, got Smith holed out at long-off with a googly.

    In a space of two overs, Yadav got the mojo back, and in a space of five overs, Kohli got the game back with the dismissal of both the set batsmen. Yadav went from 7-0-55-0 to 10-0-75-2, and Australia went from 224/1 in 37.4 overs to 293/6 in 50 overs.

    Those two wickets proved to be the game-changer in not only reinstilling fortitude in Yadav, but also in India winning the game, for a chase of 330-340 would've been vastly different from the eventual 294.

    "Wrist-spinners need to be backed," Kohli said after the match on Sunday. "They won't always get grip and turn from the wicket, but they possess the ability to get wickets. If they go for 15-20 (runs) extra, and they give you two more wickets, you'll take that any day in a One-Day game. That, in the end, makes the difference."

    Like in did in the first ODI in Chennai as well. Chasing 164 in 21 overs, Australia were all at sea at 35/4, but Glenn Maxwell was being Glenn Maxwell: trying to hit a six off every ball. He clobbered three consecutive ones after a four in a Yadav over, making it loud and clear that India can throw spinners at him at their own risk.

    Kohli afraid of risks? Nay.

    The skipper threw the ball to his other spinner Chahal in the very next over. Maxwell belted him for a six again, but Chahal got him caught at long on with a ball that was tossed wide outside the off stump.

    Kohli had the belief, Chahal had the man, India had the game.

    And the two wrist-spinners are loving this cycle at the moment, giving credit to the first aspect that their captain brings in.

    "Wrist-spinners are mostly attacking, but when your captain is so attacking, you get freedom to attack more," Chahal said after the first ODI. "Because we both look for wickets, there is no point in playing safe. You don't win matches that way."

    Kohli playing safe? Nay.

    Chahal under Kohli vs under Dhoni

    * In the 3 T20Is under MS Dhoni, Chahal has bowled 12 overs and picked up 3 wickets. In the 4 T20Is under Virat Kohli, Chahal has bowled 16 overs and picked up 11 wickets
    * In the 3 ODIs under MS Dhoni, Chahal has bowled 24 overs and picked up 6 wickets. In the 7 ODIs under Virat Kohli, Chahal has bowled 65 overs and picked up 11 wickets.

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