Virat Kohli has scored 128 runs in nine matches of IPL 2022 at an average of 16 and strike rate of less than 120. The former Royal Challengers Bangalore captain had smashed 561 runs by this stage in 2016, which included four half-centuries and two tons. The 33-year-old’s highest this year is 48 vs a struggling Mumbai Indians attack. 

Batting against the Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, RCB changed his position. Kohli opened after almost a year only to hand a catch to Riyan Parag at backward point. He walked off the field with a wry smile and nine runs against his name. The former India captain had also recorded two consecutive golden ducks, versus the Lucknow Super Giants and Sunrisers Hyderabad and now has been dismissed five of the six times he has batted in the powerplay. He averages 6.80 in the first six overs. 

Also read: IPL 2022: Sunrisers Hyderabad, Gujarat Titans battle to seal top spot

On Tuesday, the dismissal was not the only disappointing point in Virat Kohli’s innings. The 33-year-old edged most of the 10 deliveries he faced, missing the stumps twice. 

Now, with such a slump in form months ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, Kohli and RCB face a question – should the star batter pull out of IPL 2022? 

Former India coach Ravi Shastri, who worked with Virat Kohli since 2017, said that the batter needs to take a break in order to freshen his mind.

Also read: Harshal Patel refuses to shake hands with Parag after on-field spat | Watch

“I think a break is ideal for him because he has played non-stop cricket and he has captained the side across all formats. It will be wise of him to take a break. You know, sometimes you have to draw the balance. This year he is already into the tournament (IPL 2022), tomorrow if push comes to shove and you want to prolong your international career and make a mark there for 6-7 years, pull out of the IPL, for all you care,” Shastri said on Jatin Sapru’s YouTube channel.

He added that an ideal break for Kohli would be an off-season while India is not playing. 

“Those tough calls need to come if you want to reach the zenith of your profession as an international player.” 

Also read: RCB skipper Faf du Plessis backs Virat Kohli, says ‘great players go through phases like this’

Shane Watson, who is the assistant coach for Delhi Capitals this season, reacted to Shastri’s comment saying that letting go of the Indian captaincy sucked the energy out of Kohli. However, the Aussie added that he is sure, the former skipper will find the switch. 

Kevin Pietersen had come out in support of Kohli, saying that ‘every single great of our game has been through what Virat is going through’. He will deliver again, the former England captain added. 

Former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin had said that Kohli should take a break for at least two matches. 

“Basically, I feel he has played too much cricket. I know a lot of people are saying that he has had much rest between the international matches. But if you play in IPL, day-in, and day-after, so I think his footwork has become quite lazy. Maybe as a player or person watching him play, I feel he should take a break for 2-3 matches and rejuvenate himself,” he said on presents ‘Not Just Cricket’ Show on CricTracker.

Kohli had faced a rut in 2014. He registered scores of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6 and 20 in five Tests, averaging 13.50. However, he came back during the tour of Australia, accumulating 692 runs. How did the batter conquer the off-form? When his teammates left for the Champions League T20 (CLT20), Kohli came back to India to consult Sachin Tendulkar. He took a break. 

Virat Kohli is in a rut after eight years. The situation is different. He is at a different stage of his career. Will he bounce back? Or will he succumb? 

He will be seen in action when the Royal Challengers Bangalore take on the Gujarat Titans on Saturday.