Kohliding into misery: How does star batsman recover old touch
- Virat Kohli's woeful run of form continues into its third year
- Over 950 without a century, he has been on edge lately
- Monty Panesar shares some words of advice
Virat Kohli shows little signs of getting past his slump. With 70 centuries in his kitty, the elusive 71st has been long in the making. Not since his 136 at Eden Gardens -against a hapless Bangladesh- in November 2019 has the star batsman posted triple-figure scores. The drought, now spanning over 950 days, has coincided with a poor run of form, bringing him into the sharper focus of critics. With calls for him to be dropped from the T20 squad, his sympathisers are scurrying to offer advice.
English off-spinner Monty Panesar has joined the chorus, urging him to speak to the great masters of yesteryear. Willing to chip in with some help of his own, Panesar is open to a conversation over dinner:
“Virat should talk to Sachin. He admires him and respects him. He can have a chat with Yuvraj Singh (also). Virat respects Yuvraj a lot. Virat should speak to Yuvraj and Sachin. These two people can help him. He should come and see me and have a chat and we can maybe go for dinner. He should talk to someone who is completely outside of the game of cricket,” he said to the Times of India.
Kohli, lacking the easy flow of his best days, has been edgy on the crease. Naturally assertive, the abrasive 33-year-old has tried to impose himself on opposition bowlers. But it all seems a bit forced at the moment. The controlled aggression has given way to something more chaotic, desperate even. Sunil Gavaskar recently suggested he play with softer hands, settle into a rhythm, etc., but the batter keeps falling into similar patterns. Even when he has looked assured in the middle- all giant strides and dismissive cover drives- there is an unmistakable tetchiness.
Back in 2014, we saw a similarly vulnerable Kohli. Picked off by the English bowlers in home conditions, the batter showed an alarming susceptibility to deliveries on the off-stump channel. Constantly finding edges to the slip cordon, the batter was a mix of poor judgement and incorrect technique. But he soon remedied his errors, scoring plenty on the subsequent tour to Australia. The duel with Jimmy Anderson & Co. on his next visit to the British Isles was perhaps Kohli at his peak. Judging length with precision, knowing when to leave and when to play, he amassed 593 runs in 10 innings.
But as the runs have dried, so has his patience. However, it isn't all doom for Kohli. He only needs to look to his Fab Four peers to find a way out of this rut. Joe Root's sickly drought began to consume as much as his captaincy. The once prolific Steve Smith only recently scored his first century after what feels like decades. Kiwi, Kane Williamson, is bogged by poor form. As Babar Azam said, "This too shall pass."
Irrespective, calls for him to be axed from the T20 side seem foolhardy. Despite this wretched run, his returns in the shortest format have been impressive. In 24 innings, he has bagged 858 runs at an average of 50.47, scoring at a brisk 144.93. Given a break from the West Indies tour, perhaps Kohli should take up Panesar's advice to get his mojo rising.