Praise and criticism always rain in abundance for the Indian cricket team. That's probably because Indians are very emotional about the game. Or, maybe, about everything else in life too.
Currently, the team is under fire over its dismal performance in England. The opprobrium is flowing in from both Indian and foreign cricketing legends.
Neither praise, nor criticism matters to Virat Kohli (Source: AP)
English cricketer Geoffrey Boycott termed India's as batting performance as "naive, irresponsible and bordering on stupidity". In his column for The Telegraph, Boycott wrote, "So far, the Indian players have let themselves and their supporters down. The batting has been so naive and irresponsible, it has bordered on stupidity. Wafting drives at tempting outswingers is thoughtless."
"Trying to work straight outswingers through midwicket and then being surprised when you get bowled or nick it to the slips is brainless," Boycott added.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain too was unsparing in his choice of words for the "men in Blue". "India are No 1 in the world and it was meant to be a gun, tight series but at the moment it is men against boys.
Their curve is going in the wrong direction," Hussain said.
Former Indian chief selector Sandip Patil took at a dig at 'Virat Kohli's team', saying, "Seeing the performance of the Indian team in the first two Tests so far, the team really seems to have taken their skipper's statement seriously — they are truly only enjoying the coffee in English conditions."
Patil was alluding to Captain Kohli's statement made during a press conference held right before the team left for England in which the Indian skipper said, "We have enough days to acclimatise in England and we are going to enjoy coffee."
Boycott's stinging column offers a nuanced explanation of where all the Indian team has erred.
"Playing the ball on the up in front of your pad is a no-no... These are elementary things you do not do against any decent swing bowler in English conditions. To try to do it to James Anderson, who is one of the great master craftsmen in those conditions, tells me the Indian batsmen have not done their homework."
Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar suggested Virat Kohli and his men needed to get out of London and reach Nottingham as early as possible to start preparing for the third Test at Trent Bridge which starts from August 18.
While suggestions on what Indian team should and should not do seem to be pouring in from all across, the question to be asked is — just who is listening? Leading the team from the front, Captain Kohli is definitely not.
And that has come from the horse's mouth on more than one occasion.
Addressing a press conference before India played the first Test against England, Kohli said, "Back in the days when I did not know better, these things [criticism] used to bother me because I used to read a lot but honestly not because I am sitting here and I should say this in front of all of you but I genuinely don't read anything. I have no idea what's going on. So after the first two Tests in South Africa I had no idea what was going on. My only focus was on my preparation..."
Kohli has been critical of the media whenever the media has chosen to be critical of him. His dislike for anyone questioning the team for bad performance is met with an arrogance that has now come to define the cricketer, both on field and off the field.
To be fair to him, he doesn't care about the praise either.
After the team won the One Day International series against South Africa, the skipper showed no trace of humility as pieces praising the team flooded newspapers and TV channels.
In response to a question put up by a sports journalist, Kohli said: "I am not going to live in a dreamland right now and accept all the praise and sit here and feel good about this, because it does not matter to me, honestly it doesn't. It didn't matter when we were 2-0 down and it doesn't matter when we are 5-1 up because what matters is the change room."
The point Kohli seems to be missing is that what newspapers are publishing are columns written by people of achievement in his own field.
Many sports journalists in India are also known to have played the game at some stage or the other. It's another matter that they did not go on to make a mark in international cricket. But that does not take away from the fact that they do know a thing or two about the game — even if not as well as Kohli thinks he does.
While Kohli has contributed with the bat in the two Tests that saw England raze India to the ground, it is overall team performance under him that has come under attack.
The visitors have not dedicated much time to practice and have played just one warm-up match against Essex prior to the Test series.
Also, India chose to take a five-day break after the ODI series.
Critics have been crying hoarse over the team's need to practice and suggesting how the team can get its act together.
Sadly, the Indian skipper has stopped reading.