BT has previously hinted that Virat Kohli as skipper owes his success primarily to Rohit Sharma who has done the heavy lifting for the team most of the time he has been pout there. With Sharma ruled out post injury post T20Is, it was Kohli who had the most to do for the team and to be fair to him – the team with him.
But alas, that has not been the case. Rather it has been the most disappointing run for Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli during the ongoing tour of New Zealand and with his innings coming to an end on 14 during Day 2 of the second Test match in Christchurch, the right-hander registered an unwanted personal record.
With 218 runs across formats in 11 outings, this is the lowest run tally for Kohli in a tour involving all the three formats. His previous, worst tally was 254 during the disastrous England tour in 2014 when he failed to negotiate the threat from the England fast bowlers.
This tour reminded of the Indians’ tour of Australia when Sachin and Ganguly were at the helm and Glenn McGrath was the main attacking bowler for Australia. On almost all outings, Sachin was kept under tremendous pressure by McGrath and other supporting bowlers as if they had one extra home work to keep the Little Master Blaster under check.
New Zealand fast bowler Trent Boult who was the top performer for New Zealand in the second innings with three wickets, said that his team’s strategy was to put pressure on Kohli by limiting the boundary balls.
“He (Kohli) is one of the best players in the world, no doubt about that,” Boult said, when asked about the secret of keeping Kohli under check.
Virat Kohli failed to score big in the ongoing tour with his only half century coming in the first ODI match in Hamilton. He did get two good starts in the T20I series but was unable to convert them into big knocks.
“Obviously, he is a big player for them and we just tried to put enough pressure on him, keep him quiet and soak up those boundary balls, and it was nice to see him make a few errors. We were lucky to get two that lined up and hit him on the pads nicely and it was a good feeling to see the back of him.”
Startled by such a poor show of form by the Indian skipper many experts jumped to comment on India’s series loss and Virat Kohli’s personal poor form. Former Indian captain Kapil Dev suggested this could be because Kohli’s reflexes and his eyesight might have slowed down and hence, he now needs to go back and practice more against the straight deliveries.
“When you reach a certain age, when you cross 30 then it affects your eyesight. In swings, which used to be his strength, he used to flick them four but now he has been dismissed twice. So I think he needs to adjust his eyesight a bit. When big players start getting bowled or LBW to incoming deliveries then you have to tell them to practice more. It shows that your eyes and your reflexes have slowed down a bit and in no time your strengths turn into your weakness,” Kapil said on ABP news.
“From 18-24, your eyesight is at the optimum level but after that, it depends on how you work on it. Sehwag, Dravid, Viv Richards, you name it, all faced similar difficulties in their career. So Kohli needs to practice more. When your eyesight weakens then you have to tighten up your technique more. The same ball which he used pounce on so quickly, he’s getting late on it now,” he further added.
Kapil Dev suggested Virat Kohli should take advantage of the upcoming IPL season to get his form back in order.
‘I think IPL will help him. He will start getting the hang of it. He’s a great cricketer, he will definitely realize it himself and make adjustments,’ he added.
However, Virat’s former opening partner – India’s former opening batsman Virendra Sehwag leapt to his defence and disagreed with Kapil Dev on Virat’s reflexes slowing down and requiring –‘re-adjusting’.
Sehwag believes Virat Kohli is going through ‘bad form’ phase like every other player.
“When you are out of form, nothing works for you. It is not that Virat is not making efforts but luck has deserted him,” Sehwag was quoted as saying by Sportstar.
“Virat certainly doesn’t have hand-eye coordination issues. Your hand-eye issue deteriorates over a period of time. Not overnight. I am sure it is just lack of form. Also, he has got out to good deliveries”, the fiery batsman added.
Whichever way Virat Kohli gets back into form, India needs him to perform and cannot wait to see the real Virat Kohli back on crease. This is critically important in light of the up-coming challenges in the ICC T20 World Cup from 18 October to 15 November 2020 in Australia. He may have to step down and be replaced by Rohit Sharma, should things not improve for him.