File photo of India batsmen Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara batting in a Test match. (AFP Photo)
New Delhi: It's quite apparent by now that Indian batting legacy will be carried forward by Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara - the former belonging to the Sourav Ganguly school of aggression and the latter following in the footsteps of Rahul Dravid. Incidentally both the legends are former India captains, which makes you believe that India captaincy in the post-MS Dhoni era will be decided between their prototypes.
Kohli is aggressive, perhaps picking it off Ganguly who tutored India how to give it back. Pujara is more like a sage from the Dravid age - with nothing ungentlemanly about him. Kohli has the Dilliwalah swagger about him; Pujara has a typically sweet Gujarati aura about him. But one thing both have in comoony - they know how to bat.
India's runs of late have principally come from these two and in such abundance that both are now being touted as future India captains. While Kohli has already donned the captain's armband in one-dayers, asking Pujara to lead India A is a hint towards the obvious. And former India stumper Kiran More concurs with that.
Talking to Hindustan Times, the former chief selector said: "I think it's [making him India A captain] mainly because Pujara is captaincy material. I have known him for a long time and know the temperament he possesses. Both BCCI and selectors are looking at him as a future captain."
Pujara is the second-fastest Indian to score 1000 Test runs, reaching there in 18 innings compared to Vinod Kambli in 14. That speaks volumes about his consistency. He got his arsenal in order for the Test tour of South Africa with a century for the A team that toured the Rainbow Nation last month.
Kohli has done his captaincy aspirations no harm turning his leadership skills into ODI wins in the West Indies and Zimbabwe where India maintained a clean sheet in a historic 5-0 whitewash of the hosts. The only thing he needs to learn is how to channel his aggression into his game and not demeanour.
Rajkumar Sharma, who has often been credited for shaping up Kohli's career, says aggression is part of his nature. "Virat is an aggressive player by nature. He is someone who always likes to attack and take the opposition head on, which is also reflected in his captaincy. For me, Virat belongs to the Sourav Ganguly school of captaincy which is to attack the opposition from the word go," Sharma told PTI sometime back.
Mohammad Azharuddin, who was India's most successful captain before Ganguly and Dhoni, however feels that Kohli needs to tone down a bit. "You cannot be like that [aggressive] always. I know he is a very good player with a big reputation. He is considered as the future captain and he has to behave like a captain," Azharuddin had said.
With 19 international centuries (four in Tests and 15 in ODIs) at an average of 41.96 in Tests and 49.72 in ODIs, numbers are surely in Kohli's favour. And nobody would mind his aggression as long as it is sportsman-like and doesn't spill over the line.
One thing that remains slightly against Pujara is that he has yet to prove himself in the limited-overs arena, whereas Kohli is a more complete player in comparison as of now, having succeeded in every format of the game.
Decision on India's future captaincy may still be a fair distance away with Dhoni's Midas touch still very much alive. But in 12 months' time from now, the selectors may have to start pondering over who to hand over the baton to - Pujara or Kohli?