As Virat Kohli slashed at a wide delivery from Hamish Bennett early in the third ODI, there was a stunned silence among the Indian fans as Kyle Jamieson completed a fine catch, sending the India skipper back on his way for nine. This dismissal brought an end to an extremely disappointing series by his standards, with Kohli ending the three-match series with just 75 runs at an average of 25.
This is his lowest return since the 2015 tour of Bangladesh where he had averaged 16.33. Moreover, Kohli's tally of 75 runs against New Zealand during the ODI series is also the least runs scored by him in a bilateral ODI series as captain. While the 31-year-old started the tour of New Zealand in an impressive manner scoring 45 runs off 32 balls, the cricketer failed to maintain the momentum on the back of an impressive performance from the Kiwi bowlers managing just 180 runs at an average of 25.71.
The Black Caps certainly did their homework on the Team India skipper, unnerving the batsman early on during the innings when he is most vulnerable. An excellent example of this would be the tactic utilized by Tim Southee to counter Kohli, setting him up with outswingers and wider deliveries to get him shuffling across.
Pacers Bennett and Kyle Jamieson further made use of similar tactics, making it difficult for the batsman to settle early on the back of quality movement with the new ball. The former especially benefitted, accounting for Kohli's dismissal three times in the past few weeks.
This is certainly an area of concern for the team management as well as the fans, considering the batsman's ability to change the game single-handedly. What makes Kohli's ODI form all the more alarming is the fact that the 31-year-old has now failed to score a century in three ODI series in a row.
The batsman failed to reach the three-figure mark in the last three ODI series against West Indies, Australia and New Zealand making it nine straight games.
Kohli last failed to score a hundred in three successive ODI series/tournaments back in 2012-13, against Pakistan, England and during the Champions Trophy.
Having said that, Kohli has certainly scored half-centuries at a decent rate during this period in ODIs, with the cricketer registering four fifties against the three opponents. However, with the ICC T20 World Cup set to take place Down Under in October this year, it is extremely important for the cricketer to get back to prime form across all formats as soon as possible, so as to present Team India with the best version of himself.