Despite winning the first Test against West Indies in Antigua with a comprehensive margin, Virat Kohli faced the heat fo the critics after he dropped Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin. While Ashwin’s exclusion was still accepted to some extent by many, Kohli’s decision to take the field without Rohit did not go down well.
Former cricketers like Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar publicly criticized the Indian captain for dropping the limited-overs vice-captain. In a dilemma between Rohit and Hanuma Vihari for the number 6 spot, the Indian think tank went ahead with the latter, considering his ability to bowl off-spin when required. Vihari justified his selection as he scored a gritty 32 in the first innings before piling up a much-important 92 in the second.
Kohli, in the post-match presentation ceremony, echoed the same and said Vihari was chosen over Sharma for the interest of the team and for his part-time bowling ability. “Vihari got a nod because the combination is important. He’s an effective part-time bowler and helps us when we need to catch up with the over-rate. We have a group discussion and then we decide what’s best for the team. There will always be opinions about the XI, but people will know that it’s in the interest of the team,” the Indian captain said after becoming India’s joint-most successful Test captain with MS Dhoni.
In his last Test for India Rohit had scored a fifty against Australia, early this year. Other than that, he boasts a phenomenal record against the West Indies which include two centuries. They had come in hid first two matches of his Test career, including a fiery 177 on his debut in 2013.
India next play West Indies in the second and final test of the series at the Sabina Park in Jamaica beginning from August 30. It will be interesting to see if skipper Kohli finds a place for his limited-overs opener or stays with the same combination that won India their first match of the ICC World Test Championship.