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IPL 2022: What is wrong with Virat Kohli?

2022-04-22 00:00:00



Virat Kohli s long, lean run was extended by another innings on Tuesday with a golden duck. It s been 100 games across formats since he last scored a century 2019 against Bangladesh in a day night Test at the Eden Gardens . Kohli relinquished captaincy because his batting was getting affected. After leading India across formats and Royal Challengers Bangalore RCB , he wanted to reduce work load in the hope that it would help him rediscover his touch. Yet, months after becoming just another player in theory at least , it hasn t yet come together for this generational talent. Tuesday s game against Lucknow Super Giants LSG at DY Patil Stadium was exactly three years from when Kohli was in his pomp. On April 19, 2019, Kohli had scored his fifth IPL century, against Kolkata Knight Riders setting the Eden Gardens alight en route. The first 50 runs 40 balls. Next 50 runs 17 balls, tweeted an RCB fan about his last hundred in the IPL. If that was about the sublime, another tweet jagged things back to the present.

Virat Kohli has now gone 100 matches across all formats without a century 17 Tests, 21 ODIs, 25 T20Is and 37 IPL games, it said. It was the old problem of instinctively following the ball outside off stump that proved to be his undoing against LSG. Pacer Dushmantha Chameera pitched it at back of a length and there was just a hint of movement which got Kohli into playing away from the body to guide it into the hands of the backward point fielder. It was not an unplayable delivery. The manner of dismissal again proved the champion player is battling a form issue. I don t think there is a technical issue, he has played for so many years, said former India captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar. Scoring runs is basically how you adapt to the situation and conditions. What happens is, if you are not scoring, it always weighs on your mind. The game is all about confidence which comes whenever he scores. It doesn t help if you have a string of low scores especially in T20 where there is no time to get your eye in, said Vengsarkar.

So, he has to take risks of playing shots even against the moving ball. Vengsarkar said Kohli has to go through this period, there might be a day sooner that he scores runs and gets his confidence back . After RCB s opening game, where Kohli hit an unbeaten 41, his sequence of scores reads: 12, 5, 48, 1, 12 and 0. It s an aggregate of 119 runs in seven games at an average of 19.83. How RCB captain Faf du Plessis turned things around ahead of Tuesday, where he scored a match winning 96, can be a good reference point for Kohli. Since starting off with an innings of 88 against Punjab Kings, which he scored at a strike rate of 154, du Plessis managed a mere 66 runs in five innings at under a run a ball. But he came back to produce an IPL classic on a lively pitch. I went through my own processes and blueprint for scoring runs so I had a clear mental image going into this match and glad that it paid off, said du Plessis.

Kohli will have to conjure up something similar. There are so many of his own IPL gems to seek inspiration from. You have to just rewind to the classics from 2015 and 2016 to understand how Kohli can be an unstoppable force. The still body, leaning into the stroke with the head, then generating explosive power from the wrist was a treat to watch. All of that was on show in the 113 off 50 balls versus Kings XI Punjab now Punjab Kings in 2016; an innings in which he hit 12 fours and eight sixes despite batting with eight stiches. It was one of his four hundreds in IPL 2016. Then there is the knock of 44 not out off 19 balls versus Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2015 when RCB needed 81 off six overs. Kohli hit three fours and three sixes, the suppleness of his wrist play was dazzling, all the power coming from it when he was whipping balls to the leg side and hitting straight down the ground with minimal effort. Another gem is the 108 not out off 58 balls in 2016 versus Rising Pune Supergiant. Against KKR in 2016, chasing 184 at Eden Gardens, he led RCB with 75 off 51 balls.

With the T20 World Cup this year, the India team needs Kohli to be at his best. For that Ravi Shastri has suggested he needs a break. When I was coach at the time when this first started, the first thing I said is, you have to show empathy to the guys . If you re going to be forceful, there is a very thin line there, from a guy losing the plot as opposed to him hanging in there and giving his best. So you have to be extremely careful, Shastri said on a Star Sports post match show. I am going straight to the main guy here. Virat Kohli is overcooked. If anyone needs a break, it s him. Whether it s two months or a month and a half, whether it s after England or before England. He needs a break because he has got 6 7 years of cricket left in him and you don t want to lose that with a fried brain. He is not the only one. There might be 1 or 2 in world cricket going through the same.

You need to address the problem upfront. Former England captain Kevin Pietersen agreed. Virat Kohli needs to say, cricket boots, for six months, I will see you later. Turn off social media, go and get re energised. When the stadiums are full again, you guarantee him a spot in that side for the next 12, 24 or 36 months. Tell him you re our guy, we know you ll deliver for us . I think he is going to find it very hard to continue delivering now.

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