CHENNAI: They’re all hushed whispers for now, but they’re getting louder. And with each Test that Virat Kohli and his band of merry men brush off whatever semblance of a challenge that their opponents put up, the chorus will have more voices joining in.
Is this Indian side fit enough to be spoken of in the same breath as some of the all-time great ones? There definitely is an argument to be made. Only four sides have gone on a longer unbeaten run — Don Bradman’s Invincibles, Clive Lloyd’s West Indians, the England side of the late sixties/early seventies and Ricky Ponting’s Australian side, the last one essentially the sequel to Steve Waugh’s even more dominant one.
Kohli, as captain, has some pretty phenomenal numbers too. In just over two years, he is already India’s third-most successful captain, and has more wins in 23 games than what Mohammed Azharuddin managed in 47. People are already looking at his shadow and whispering ‘Steve Waugh’. Few, though, know great Australian sides like Sachin Tendulkar does. He was one of the many opposition captains that Waugh’s men vanquished during their all-conquering run. He was there when the final frontier stopped both Waugh’s Untouchables and Ponting’s slightly more functional, yet even-harder-to-beat Aussie side.
Yet, comparing them with the current Indian side is not something Tendulkar is interested in. “I think each era and generation played cricket differently, and there were different styles of play,” he said. “So, for this generation, I would say it’s a fabulous achievement. I’ve always believed in this team, and a while back, I said that this team was going to play together for a long, long time to come and dominate cricket. But when it comes to comparisons, I don’t think we should pick a team from 50s, 70s and 80s and start comparing.”
So what makes Kohli’s team so devastating, despite not having the kind of era-defining talent that Sourav Ganguly and — for the initial part of his reign — MS Dhoni had at their disposal?
“It’s the right balance of good all-rounders. There are batters who can bowl, and bowlers who can bat. There are two keepers (Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel) who have scored runs. With them being able to do that, it changes the balance of the team, and we’re seeing the results. It’s about preparation, and after which results automatically follow. I’m enjoying the way the guys have played.”