India comfortably won the second Test match against New Zealand here in Mumbai. Virat Kohli, who returned in the playing XI after staying out of the first match certainly galvanized his troops but his form with the willow is increasingly becoming a cause of concern. Barring the howler of a decision by Virendra Sharma in the first innings, there is not much to write about Kohli’s heroics with the bat. He failed to score big in the second innings, despite having close to three days at his disposal.
The Indian Test skipper averages 26 since January 2020. It’s been 13 Tests since he scored his last hundred against Bangladesh in November 2019. Pressure is mounting and with the team expected to play their next assignment in the bouncy conditions of South Africa, hopes of Kohli rekindling his form have certainly taken a nosedive.
Former Kiwi pacer and commentator Simon Doull gave his frank assessment that Kohli knew he was under the microscope for his poor performances. Doull said, “He [Virat] says he doesn’t know how many it has been, but he is not being honest either. He knows exactly when he had scored his last hundred and he knows that he needs another hundred to silence some of the critics. So he is feeling the pressure as much as anyone,”
Why not have the same metric to gauge Kohli as other players?
Atul Mishra, TFI Founder casting aspersions over Kohli’s lack of form demanded that he be gauged using the same metric used to gauge other players’ place in the squad.
He tweeted, “Kohli’s Test batting average since January 2020 is around 26. He should be out of the team. He should play Ranji, and make a comeback if health, form and fortune allows him to.”
Kohli's Test batting average since January 2020 is around 26.
He should be out of the team. He should play Ranji, and make a comeback if health, form and fortune allows him to.
— Atul Mishra (@TheAtulMishra) December 5, 2021
Rahane the scapegoat?
While Kohli’s Test place is in no imminent danger, a soft-spoken guy like Ajinkya Rahane is seemingly sitting at the cusp of a Test side ejection, even though his numbers are comparatively similar to Kohli.
Unlike Kohli, Rahane scored his last Test ton in December 2020. He smashed 112 in the Boxing Day Test against Australia, which helped India claim a historic win. His captaincy and the game-winning knock helped India make a comeback in the series after the team was skittled out for 36.
Moreover, it was Rahane’s leadership that India went on to win the Border Gavaskar trophy after Kohli flew back to India to attend the birth of his first child.
Safe to say, Kohli’s captaincy, overtly aggressive and confusing tactics at times, is not an attribute that can save his job. There are other contenders and deserving one’s at that too. A captain is only judged by the number of silverware trophies he has in his cabinet. And Kohli ‘The Captain’ has zilch up until now, whether it be T20s, ODIs, Tests or franchise cricket.
Kohli has fallen behind his peers
At one time, Kohli used to be the benchmark of performance for batters across the planet. England skipper Joe Root who often found himself at the fringes of the fab four conversation and languished behind Kohli has certainly leapfrogged him in recent times.
In the last two years, Root averages around 53.8 in test cricket, with 6 centuries and 0 ducks. 2021 has been a monumental year for the Yorkshire batsman as he managed to convert 6 of his 7 fifties into hundreds. He struck three centuries in the Test series against India earlier this year, whilst Kohli only managed to reach a couple of half-centuries whilst once again failing to convert it into something substantial.
Then there is Kohli’s tendency to be a bit cocky. Be aggressive, without a doubt. Have a go at the opposition, give it back to them. But also, be aware of where to draw the line. Kohli must remember that he is looked up to as a role model by the younger generation.
Moreover, with Ashwin picking over 50 wickets once again in a Test match calendar year, questions are being asked to Kohli, why did he drop him in the Test matches earlier this year. It has been noted by experts and spectators alike that under Kohli, the players tend to lose themselves due to the bigger-than-life figure of Kohli.
Ashwin particularly has been treated in a not-so-kind manner by Kohli but the off-spinner has quietly done his job whenever given a chance without creating a fuss.
Kohli is not turning any younger now. He is 33. The clock is ticking by and if he doesn’t sort out the mess that his batting has become at the moment, the team management should take the harsh calls. It is the lack of harsh calls in the last seven years that has led to the Indian team’s trophy cabinet being empty.