ENGLAND : Light pitter patter of rain outside. Inside, in a room in the arena, Virat Kohli is saying all the right things. How he still gets butterflies in the stomach before tournaments and matches; how he doesn’t want to use a press conference to score points with Kagiso Rabada, who had called him immature; how playing their first match so late is an advantage as they have seen the trends – it strikes you again how articulate he can be when he wishes. Some people have the personality even in a team atmosphere to individuate themselves and make a crowd out of the rest. Kohli is like that. Like Kevin Pietersen. It comes naturally to them. As Pietersen found out, it can lead to problems at times.
He might have had success leading the Test team but in many ways, it’s the ODI team that he has had lesser problems with as a leader. This is the band of men, the team that he has carefully built over the last couple of years. There have been murmurs about his lack of communication from a few in the Test team, a couple even came out publicly after the England tour. There isn’t that kind of displeasure in the limited-overs side. The first, and most important, achievement was striking a great relationship with MS Dhoni. Second, he got the youngsters he wanted in this team.
Kohli has been good, especially with the youngsters. Most good captains are. That’s how they stamp their presence. You can’t grudge them for trying to build a team of personalities that suits them. Allan Border did it in the ’80s, as did Steve Waugh, Graeme Smith and Sourav Ganguly. Kohli has done it with this ODI team. It’s as close as it gets to a Kohli team.