Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Jul 2017 11:56:14

THE comprehensive 304-run victory over Sri Lanka in the Galle Test has given Team India a major boost in the series. In the end it turned out to be a one-sided contest with only a charged-up India standing up while the demoralised Lankans capitulated on expected lines. The victory has helped India avenge the heart-breaking loss at the same venue two years ago. But more than that what India have achieved is a big buffer from the coach controversy that lingered on and on.

Since the talk of rift between former coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli became public, Indian cricket was entangled in an unnecessary mess. Theories, allegations, denials and counters from people close to players, BCCI officials and others created a circus that ended only with Kumble putting in his papers. Then started the drama to pick the new coach. Ultimately, it was the captain’s favourite -- Ravi Shastri -- who got the nod as rightly perceived by many.

The Shastri-Kohli chemistry is well known to the Indian dressing room. As Team Director, Shastri had forged a fine, easy-going relationship with the skipper and other youngsters. After a year under Kumble, the former Indian captain is back in the dressing room, as a full-time head coach. The pair has started in the right earnest with a facile victory in Galle.

This victory was very much necessary for Kohli and Shastri. The manner in which it was achieved talked of the comfort in relations. Shastri’s style of coaching had always been street-smart. Going with the flow is a mantra that the former all-rounder followed all his cricketing career. As Team Director, too, he did the same, allowing free hand to the players and captain. The happy picture that the dressing room presented during the Galle Test was a sign of the team tiding over the controversy.

It was also a redemption of sorts for Kohli. Being painted villain in the Kumble episode, the Indian captain desperately needed a comfortable victory as well as runs under his belt. He was the only Indian batsman to score in single digit in the first innings. Tongues had immediately started wagging over Kohli’s loss of focus. He settled the talk with a scintillating century in the second innings and victory inside four days.

Not that such talks perturb him but given Kohli’s penchant for sentimental outbursts it was necessary for him to seal it all with a fine knock. He had an average run in the last Test series against Australia. But Kohli came back into his elements without thinking about past failures. And then in typical Kohli style he answered the critics to keep a count of his failures, for, it does not matter to him till it is in the team plans. Just like his head coach used to say in his own playing days!