Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 22
Indian captain Virat Kohli left the Australian shores today, giving a final pep talk to his team, but leaving a gaping hole in the Indian batting order.
The absence of Kohli, returning to India for the birth of his first child, due in January, wrenches the heart out of the Indian team, which is down in the dumps after losing the first Test well within three days. Their being bowled out for 36 in the second innings showcased two things — Australia’s top-class pace attack and the deficiencies of the Indian batting line-up. The absence of Kohli from the three remaining Tests presents the prospect of a 4-0 whitewash by Australia.
In online discussions and letters to editors, some fans have suggested that Kohli, inspirational leader and premier batsman, should have remained with the team in Australia till the end of the series; some have suggested that he could have returned to India after the second Test, which ends on December 30, or after the third Test, which ends on January 11.
The overwhelming view, though, is that Kohli is doing the right thing by returning to India to be by the side of his wife when they become parents for the first time.
However, former Indian spinner Dilip Doshi believes that in such a situation, a cricketer must put his team and country before self. “I know this is a modern phenomenon that people believe that they ought to be by the side of their family and spouses when they deliver a child. I understand all that,” Doshi said in an interview with sports website Sportskeeda. “But when you are on a national duty… If I put myself in his shoes, I wouldn’t have gone. For me, national duty comes before everything else.”
Doshi’s opinion is likely to be unpopular because, as he said, times are very different since he last played for India, in 1983.
Doshi did raise interesting questions — with the team in dire straits, in desperate need of him, is not the captain’s place with his team rather than his family? Should not a cricketer put his team and country before family? This is what Sunil Gavaskar did when, leaving for a long tour of New Zealand and West Indies in early 1976, he knew that his child would arrive in his absence.
Doshi justified his opinion that Kohli should have stayed in Australia, saying: “It’s a sinking ship. This is the time when they need their captain the most. If you leave at this time, you are leaving the side to your deputy with a lot of questions unanswered. I only hope and pray that the team shows enough character to come out of this.”
Interesting views — though it’s possible that if Doshi were a player of the current times, his mindset would have been very different. Then again, just six years ago, MS Dhoni preferred to be in Australia for the World Cup, instead of being in India for the birth of his child.