Virat Kohli is arguably the greatest batsman in modern-day cricket and has been in the spotlight for the past decade, but now things have suddenly changed for the batting maverick. Nobody would have thought when Kohli scored his 70th international century against Bangladesh in India’s first-ever Day-night Test, that the wait for the 71st will be this long and that critics will start questioning his credentials. In 2020 Covid-19 hit the sporting world as cricket was paused for a few months and when it resumed it was not normal for everyone because of the Covid protocols which included the bio-secure bubble. Several cricketers felt that the bubble was affecting them mentally as they were bound to stay in the hotel premises during any series and were not allowed to go out to refresh themselves after the match.
The bubble-fatigue affected performances of several players at the start and one of them were Kohli who struggled to convert his half-centuries into triple-digit scores which was a rare sight for everyone as the 33-year-old was well known for his astonishing conversion rate.
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Despite of not breaching the 100-run mark, Kohli continued to hit half-centuries at regular intervals. Kohli decided to step down as India’s T20I captain after the 2021 T20 World Cup and the BCCI took the tough call to sack him from ODI captaincy also as the selectors wanted a single captain in the white-ball formats. Later Kohli also stepped down as Test skipper after the South Africa tour which shifted the balance of power and Rohit Sharma was appointed the new captain of all formats.
Post-2021 T20 World Cup, Kohli has been given rest at regular intervals to manage his workload. He missed several international series, however, it hasn’t worked out well for him so far. The batting maverick’s numbers have dipped drastically in recent times as he was the player who once used to dominate ICC Rankings and was a constant in the top 3 across formats. But now he has slipped out of the top 10 from Test and T20Is after constant failures.
Kohli has scored 220 runs in 4 Test matches in 2022 at an average of 31.42. The 33-year-old has been constantly struggling against the balls outside off-stump. Several teams have identified a chink in Kohli’s armour as the pacers are targeting him with the outside off-stump line as they know he loves playing cover drives. He has been dismissed on some unplayable sort of deliveries just because he continues to play them on the front foot which is exposing the edge of his bat to the outgoing deliveries.
After the 2021 T20 WC, Kohli missed two Tests as he was rested for the first Test against New Zealand, while he sustained a back injury in the second Test on the South Africa tour.
The ODI format is one of the strongest of Kohli where he attained great success with the bat and was referred as ‘Run Machine’ and ‘Chase Master’ a couple of years back. However, life has not been easy for him in his favourite format too as he scored just 158 runs in 7 ODIs this year at an average of 22.57.
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When it comes to T20Is, Kohli has missed several series after the marquee ICC event last year. He missed the three-match series versus the Blackcaps right after the T20 WC and missed the third T20I against West Indies in February. The selectors also gave him rest during the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
However, Kohli was available for IPL 2022 and he played all the matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a forgettable season for the maestro with the bat as he scored 341 runs in 16 matches at an average of 22.73. He faced a lot of criticism in IPL 2022 for his strike rate – 115.99 which put him under the scanners.
Despite of a poor IPL, the selectors gave him the rest for the five-match T20I series against South Africa which irked several critics and fans. He missed the series against Ireland as he was in England at that time for the rescheduled fifth Test.
The resting period didn’t stop there for Kohli as he missed the first T20I versus England and later returned for the last two matches where he managed to score 12 runs in the attempt to embrace India’s new fearless batting approach.
Recently, Kohli was rested for the upcoming five-match T20I series against two-time champions West Indies. Kohli’s place in India’s T20I team is now in serious jeopardy as several former cricketers including legendary Kapil Dev have started raising questions about his place in the squad and his strike rate in the shortest format in their biggest concern.
Kohli has played his cricket with a set pattern of play where he took some time to get settled and then unleashes himself on the opposition in the final five overs. However, things have changed in Indian cricket as they are now trying to play an aggressive brand of cricket where the batters have to fire with the bat from the word go.
For a player like Kohli, who is already going through a lean patch, it is difficult to adapt to the new approach straightaway as it requires some game time to get used to. Several former cricketers have also opined that the more you play the better will be the chance for you to return to form. However, the selectors are doing the complete opposite to it by giving him rest after rest to manage the workload which has not been that much for him this year. Every player goes through a lean patch in any sport but when a quality player like Virat Kohli goes down – the spotlight turns automatically on them and no matter how much he tries to stay away from but it will stick to him. Nobody can deny the fact that Kohli has been India’s big match-winner in the past decade but to get back to is best he has to face the challenge.
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