No Comparisons between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, Please!

The temptation is rife. With an early end to the second Test, the need to fill up the newsreels and television spots make for some spicy comparisons. But the timing is of concern which is why perhaps the discussions would be better served to stop at celebrations. At the year rounds out rather nicely for team India, still poised with hope and expectation for 2021 and a possible Test trophy down under, having levelled the Border-Gavaskar four-Test series at 1-1, there is the predictable debate rearing its head. Does Ajinkya Rahane make for a better captain than Virat Kohli? That question was always going to be on the table, since this is the first obvious opportunity that was designed fairly early in time when it was confirmed that Kohli would need to fly home to be present for the birth of his first child while Rahane would have a longer rein, spanning three Tests, albeit in a rigorous challenge down under. Although there is much for India to cheer, after managing to find themselves snot unlike the first Test to take on a lead and then put the hosts under pressure only to collapse in the first Test but redeem themselves in the second, there is always going to be the obvious personality comparison and how it adds up when leading the charge. There were a few former cricketers and captains who chipped in their two cents well ahead in time, signalling to Virat Kohli they would have their hammer and nails in earnest and ready upon his impending absence. However, the fact that India lost the first Test muted the hype of pressure on the Indian captain as the team focussed on evening the scales, which it is needed to in the fast closing in four-Test series. However, as the joy simmers down with the knowledge that India still have a fair amount of work ahead of them to keep up the pressure and momentum, there is now still a few quarters that are already drawing the daggers in for the captain. Arguably Rahane seems the calmer, more composed captain. Kohli, by his nature, is aggressive and visibly expressive of his intent. Each have their own strengths when it comes to managing the batting expectations when it comes to the top order as far as Kohli is concerned and for Rahane who perhaps has a better taste for the bowler’s capability, being in the unique position of not only knowing of their skills as the team’s vice-captain but also, sometimes finding himself batting alongside themselves in perilous situations that test the character and mettle of the cricketer as a whole. There are shades to both styles of captaincy that could be scrutinized under pressure or when the team has lost a match. But what is of greater relevance here is to note that Rahane has not had enough time in the captain’s seat to be judged on par with Kohli. And putting this kind of spotlight on him only makes getting the job done much harder. Perhaps the game of daggers and villains can be had when the tour is over and India return as expected with resounding victory as they did on their last tour down under. For that to happen, India have a tall order to climb still with two Tests to go. Having shown a certain fragility once so early on in the Test that was considered theirs for the taking in Adelaide, India would rather play a more cautious note when it comes to an early evaluation and passing judgement since it will be not unlike the first two Tests – Sydney where they will be expected to come and Brisbane where they must both, take and give heat. With David Warner back in the saddle, it will make for an interesting mix as India are expected to continue a little bit of the same game of changing faces and places and the likes of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul coming into play, Shubman Gill notwithstanding. This then would not be time for the captains to be squared off against each other, but working on each other’s inputs in the build-up.