Should Virat Kohli step down as Bangalore captain?
There were quite a few glaring issues for Bangalore despite their qualifications to the play-offs this Indian T20 League season. The bowling seemed sorted and the top-order had more support for Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers (often deemed the issue in previous seasons), yet the season ended with five successive losses.
Where do you pinpoint Bangalore's woes then? Their bowling? Not really. Their batting? Maybe, but not fully. Resources? Could be.
Yet, the one factor that's barely pinpointed at is the captaincy. Virat Kohli has had little success in eight seasons as skipper of the franchise and despite being tactically reasonable through this season, the fact that the franchise has been underperforming for so long should bring scrutiny on Kohli.
This season, four wins out of their seven victories came on the back of the efforts of one player, AB de Villiers. That a franchise with such all-round quality is so dependent on one player speaks volumes about where their issues come from. There's too much onus on one person in the planning phase itself as was evident from Bangalore's slow scoring rate in the middle overs where they basically tried and set the game up for the finisher - de Villiers.
Remember, he was also their crisis batsman in the middle overs. Kohli faced a large chunk of the deliveries in the middle overs, yet scored at a sedate pace on most occasions and never really stepped up except on the odd occasion, which Simon Katich, the head coach chose to highlight while ignoring the obvious shortcomings in his methods.
"Virat came into the innings outside the Power Play on a number of occasions, which is never an easy time to start your innings particularly in the UAE where we found the conditions starting to slow up later on. That was a challenge for him, but I think we saw that the class of Virat, particularly in the game against Chennai where he got 90 off 50," Katich said in a press conference.
While Bangalore's scoring rate was the lowest in the middle overs, and Kohli's batting, despite the bulk of runs, didn't add much value, Bangalore's real struggles came in using resources the way they were meant to be and reading game situations well.
The excellent support staff that involved Mike Hesson and Simon Katich ensured Bangalore were on top of their strategies but Kohli as a skipper in reading game situations still falls behind.
"Eight years is a long, long time. Look at what happened to R Ashwin. Two years of captaincy [for the Kings XI Punjab], he couldn't deliver and he was removed. We talk about MS Dhoni, we talk about Rohit Sharma, we talk about Virat Kohli... not at all. Dhoni has won three [IPL] titles, Rohit Sharma has won four titles, and that's the reason they've captained for such a long time because they've delivered. I'm sure if Rohit Sharma wouldn't have delivered for eight years, he would have been removed as well," Gautam Gambhir said after Bangalore's season.
While Gambhir's outrage might be over the top, he does have a point. Despite the minimal success of the franchise, Kohli continuing as skipper is bizarre and hasn't helped the franchise.
If anything, their strategies and game plan is built around his way of doing things, which clearly isn't working out even with some of the best support staff in the ranks. Bangalore's late reaction in ironing out issues and using players flexibly shows a rigid mindset that clearly hasn't helped the franchise.
Will the change come? Unlikely. But the troubles point in one direction, one that can be fixed for their own benefit.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League