HYDERABAD: Former Test off-spinner Arshad Ayub, who was the manager of Team India in the Test series Down Under, gave full marks to new captain Virat Kohli and predicted he will take India to a different level. “He is a great captaincy material,” he said.
“His approach to captaincy is positive and he is going to take India to a different level. He’s an honest fellow, which I think is a must. The team comes first for him. He understands that way and plays that way,’’ added Ayub.
Ayub asserts that Kohli’s aggression seldom went overboard. “I don’t think he was over aggressive. Everybody has a different way of reacting to certain things. When you have a player like Virat you will have some aggression. But it was controlled aggression,’’ he said.
He also defended Kohli’s verbal exchanges with the Australians. “Who is the perpetrator? We cannot sit back and take it. When you say something you expect to take back something. The way he dominated the Australian attack was amazing. He put us in such a place that we were proud of him,’’ he pointed out.
Although India lost the series 0-2, Ayub emphasised that India played a positive brand of cricket. “There was no negativity there. It was a good learning curve for the young team. Overall, they had played 170 Tests whereas Australians had 450-odd Tests between them. And we had them on the ropes twice. We could have got them. It looks 2-0, but it could have been the other way also. It was a tough but satisfying tour.’’
Ayub admitted Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sudden retirement surprised the team. “We were surprised but it was a decision taken by a lion-hearted man. He has always played cricket like that. His reasoning was different. He wanted to focus on ODIs and T20s. That’s how he thought and instantly took a decision. But the team took this in its stride. They respect him a lot, and once he makes a decision he takes it with maturity. It was not a decision in haste. People understood the decision and it became easier to accept.’’
He also backed the bowlers, who were blamed for inconsistency and wastefulness: “We impressed in certain sessions. We lost in some sessions. But if you look at most of them, they have not played more than 20 Tests at a stretch other than Ishant (Sharma). So I think it’s still an inexperienced attack. Maybe, in the next eight to 10 months, they’ll be world beaters. For the first time, we’ve got at least three who can bowl over 140. I’m quite happy with (Ravichandran) Ashwin also.”
Regarding Ishant, he said: “Ishant’s performance was not bad. He was consistently bowling good lines. Mitchell Johnson also went for 100. So did Lyon four times. The difference was little between the two teams.’’
He is convinced India can defend the World Cup. “We’ve got a good one-day side. If we can bowl consistently, we should do well. The way they finished the tour on high I’m quite confident they can retain the World Cup.”