The Indian tour of Australia could've been rated an abject failure so far if it hadn't been for one player -- Virat Kohli. Kohli has grown in stature on the tour, rising above the batting failures, non-athletic fielding and magnanimous bowling of some of his more experienced teammates, to gradually stamp his authority on the international game.
Up until this series he was widely accepted as a fine short form player but it has been his improvement in the Test match arena that has stamped him as an integral part of India's way forward. There were signs in a first innings of 23 at the SCG that he was starting to come to grips with Test cricket in general and Australian conditions in particular.
They were only small steps but compared with what was happening with the rest of the team it was at least a miner's lamp at the end of an otherwise dark tunnel. This small offering was followed by a good double at the WACA where a second innings century beckoned until his teammates imploded and left him last out, flailing away in a vain attempt to reach three figures with only the number eleven for support.
This was criminal neglect by some of his teammates, as the feeling persisted that a century under the unique challenges provided by the WACA pitch would be the makings of the young man. However, Kohli showed by scoring a century in his very next innings at the Adelaide Oval, that he felt he really belonged at this level and nothing, not even teammates' ineptitude, was going to derail his appointment with destiny.
His future had seemed assured when he excelled at the under age level, including being appointed captain of India's under-19 World Cup team. Following his century in Adelaide it's fairly safe to assume that destiny will now be achieved barring accident.
Despite his natural gifts, which include exquisite timing and abundant confidence there are still some hurdles to overcome before he reaches the elite status. Not the least of these obstacles is his own impetuosity.
Twice in recent innings, once in a Test and again in an ODI he's needlessly run himself out, each time finishing face down in the dirt in a pose not befitting a player of his talents. The second time he was trying to retain the strike, not an unforgivable crime given the way many Indian batsmen have indulged in unconditional surrender on this tour.
Perhaps his impetuosity in the ODI was born of frustration from his teammates refusal to nail down a victory over Sri Lanka that should've been straightforward but in the end was a lot more complicated than it needed to be. Part of the complication was due to the thoughtlessness of a couple of Kohli's young compatriots.
Both Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina are very talented but they need to take a leaf out of Kohli's book on determination to succeed.
Rohit has already squandered a couple of opportunities to impress and a lazy, leaden footed square cut at the WACA smacked of a young player wanting to take the easy road to success. The selectors need to share some of the blame, as Rohit should've been elevated to the Test arena sooner and sometimes a player can recede when he stays at a lower level too long. However, if he continues to prefer the easy route he will only have himself to blame for not making the most of his undoubted ability.Â
Raina has flattered to deceive on a number of occasions but his dismissal at the WACA was both thoughtless and inconsiderate. Slogging a ball straight down an outfielder's throat when the situation cried out for him to preserve his wicket at all costs isn't designed to make selectors' think kindly of a player when he's in a bad trot. Both Raina and Rohit need to pull their socks up if they want to join Kohli in being part of an Indian cricket revival.