For Virat Kohli, Change Is The Only 'Constant'
The scissor happy Virat Kohli has changed at least one player in seven Tests, two players in 16 Tests, three players in six Tests, four players in four Tests and five players in a single Test since his debut as captain.
A fiery press conference at SuperSport Park in Centurion saw India captain Virat Kohli arguing with reporters on a couple of questions on Wednesday as India lost the second Test by 135 runs and with that the three-match Test series as South Africa took an unassailable 2-0 lead. Kohli made three changes in the playing XI in the second Test and the most surprising one was leaving out Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was the pick of the bowlers for India in the first Test match. While it may have been a bit harsh on Bhuvneshwar but Kohli has had a history of chopping and changing the playing eleven ever since he took over as the captain. So when a South African scribe asked him about his choice of 34 different playing XIs in his three years as Test captain, Kohli wasn't exactly amused. A statistical lowdown clearly points at distinct lack of consistency in team selection.
Whether it is by choice or compulsion of injuries, Kohli's fetish for tinkering with playing XI is well documented -- something that wasn't questioned till the South African debacle happened.
The scissor-happy Kohli has changed at least one player in seven Tests, two players in 16 Tests, three players in six Tests, four players in four Tests and five players in a single Test (his debut Test as captain in Adelaide, Australia in 2014).
At the onset it is fair to mention that Kohli never had a settled opening pair with either of the three Murali Vijay, KL Rahul or Shikhar Dhawan being injured or out of form. In Kohli's regime, Vijay played 25 Tests, Rahul 20 and Dhawan 17.
India used seven openers in this period -- Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahul, Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund.
However, during these three years only six players have received India Test caps.
They are Karn Sharma, Naman Ojha, Jayant Yadav, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.
While Ravichandran Ashwin's head was on the chopping block often during Mahendra Singh Dhoni's last phase as India captain, he has been privileged to start in 33 of the 34 Tests under Kohli.
Only once did he forego his place in the side when leg-spinner Karn was handed a surprise debut in Adelaide. Ashwin has taken 193 wickets and scored 1159 runs in these 33 matches.
Now coming to Ajinkya Rahane. While there has been a public outrage about Rahane's ommission, it's only fair to mention that the dogged Mumbaikar's much-feted overseas record has been mostly under Dhoni till 2014 Australia tour.
Rahane has played 30 out of those 34 Tests, batting at No 5. In the 37 innings, Rahane scored 1312 runs with an average 39.75.
If someone has been genuinely unlucky, that is Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played only eight out of 34 Tests with only once he was selected in playing XI for successive matches. That was in the West Indies in 2016.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha played 29 matches each. Pujara was regular as number three batsman where he scored 2187 runs ( avg 54.67). Saha got a chance in 23 innings as number seven -- the most by an Indian during that time.
In the eye of storm, Rohit Sharma played 17 matches mostly at number six, where he played 14 innings -- one more than Ashwin at that number.
During this period India used nine batsmen at number six, most in any batting position.
(With PTI Inputs)