Post Raina-Jadeja squabble: Is India a disaffected unit?


The Titan who conquered the Champions Trophy was humbled and brought to his knees by his own arrogance. Two demoralizing losses later, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni benched, nursing a hamstring injury, stand-in captain Virat Kohli finally salvaged some honour for the crestfallen team. India’s victory over West Indies, and a great victory it was, was marred by the rather juvenile episode of Ravindra Jadeja firing a few ill words towards Suresh Raina—all for dropping a catch.
Virat Kohli, going into the final match before the final, has a lot on his plate as the stand-in captain. Here are but some of the challenges he needs to overcome:
Do or die for Team India - While the win against West Indies has kept alive the hopes of making the final, Kohli still has a daunting task ahead of him. Not only does he have to lead India to a victory against Sri Lanka, he has to earn a bonus point while doing so. With a rather poor net run rate, just winning against Sri Lanka would be rather pointless and West Indies will face Sri Lanka in the finals. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, is rather free to play as it deems fit. As long as it does not lose to India by a large margin, their net run rate of 1.019 will take it to the finals.
Kohli has big shoes to fill - With Dhoni ruled out, Kohli has the uncomfortable task of captaining the team. While captaining a team as skilled and lethal as India is a role most will wage a war over to earn, replacing Dhoni as captain is one most will shy away from. Dhoni is arguably one of the most successful captains in the recent past, and his mere presence on the field added courage and will to the Indian side by the tonnes. Therefore, in the absence of Dhoni, Kohli’s task of filling in as stand-in captain is an uncomfortable but necessary task he must fulfil. With a long list of victories prior to arriving in the Caribbean islands, Kohli has the bonus task of not being the captain that ended India’s supremacy.
Kohli needs to reunite Team India - If the pressures of making the finals and resurrecting the lost honour weren’t enough, Kohli has to regain unity within his team. While Dhoni may not find it difficult, given his stature, the rather inexperienced Kohli will look at it as a monumental task. The spat between Raina and Jadeja has left the nation questioning the team’s unity at this crucial moment in the Tri-Series. While most might look at it as just another juvenile moment, we should remember that such incidents never occurred in the 90’s even when Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid among others were still young and hot-blooded. They seemed to have the maturity to let the silly incidents go without letting it get on their nerves and acting on it. Whether it was an isolated incident or whether there truly is short-fused resentment beneath the veneer, Kohli must ensure that it doesn’t resurface again before, during or after the match.
Revenge is yet to be served -The last time the teams went head-to-head, Lankans were left standing with a glorious victory and the Indians ware left cowering in the shadows of their humiliating defeat. Regaining the honour is another task in Kohli’s long list of things to do. It is Virat’s turn to answer in kind and he needs to do so with equal volume if not louder. Given the degree of humiliation meted out by the Lankans during the first encounter, a worthy reply may send the Windies to the finals. A victory of such proportions may be just beyond Virat’s grasps.
Whether he will be able to rise up to the needs of the hour or not is yet to be seen. A victory may look likely but against a formidable side like Sri Lanka, whether India with Virat Kohli at the reins will be able to earn a bonus point is hard to predict.

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