Virat Kohli has had a totally unconvincing IPL so far this year — by his high standards. While he has shown he can still score a lot of runs in T20s, sadly, from all appearances, he can’t score these runs at a good clip.
He has been putting on clinics as to how to build an innings; how to take singles & doubles and steal a boundary now and then. However, when it comes to hitting big shots at a stretch, he has been found wanting. This has been the leitmotif of his batting for the large part of this season.
Kohli is averaging 46 so far, having made 460 runs in 14 games, which is not bad at all. But but when one looks at his strike rate, the disappointment can’t be greater, yes just 122.01.
One may argue that he is playing the sheet-anchor’s role.
The counterpoint to that is the sheet anchor’s role is normally assigned to batsmen less equipped for power-hitting. And even if a proverbially aggressive batsman like Kohli does decide to bat responsibly without being overly attacking, how do you explain his dismissals or ineffectuality whenever there is need for big shots and quick runs?
It’s true Kohli has never been predisposed to smashing big shots right from the first ball; but in recent memory after settling down he could always hit the long balls one after the other. He has had a few unsatisfactory IPLs in the past particularly from a strike-rate point of view but the reasons were different. And power-hitting wasn’t one of them.
This IPL it has happened way too often to ignore or dismiss. Against Mumbai Indians, he scores 9 off 14 balls without a single boundary; against Chennai Super Kings he scores 50 off 43 balls with one four and one six.
Against Kolkata Knight Riders he scores 18* off 17 balls in an innocuous chase of 84. This in a league where the net run-rate often proves decisive!
Three more damning examples: Against Rajasthan Royals he scores 43 off 32, however, on the same pitch AB de Villiers scores 55* off 22 balls and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. In another match against KKR, he scores 33* off 28, while de Villiers smashes the hell out of bowlers at the other end scoring 73* off 33. And then in tonight’s all-important game against Delhi Capitals he only manages 29 off 24 balls getting out at the wrong time.
In light of Kohli’s woeful power-hitting, RCB should be thankful to heaven that they have succeeded in reaching the play-offs. However until he improves quickly, their chances of reaching the final look rather slim.
It’s clear Kohli is losing his mojo in the shortest format. Lack of practice due to the pandemic can’t be the reason anymore with IPL having been underway more than 40 days now. Maybe there is some injury due to which he can’t play free-style any longer.
Sachin Tendulkar too couldn’t play certain shots after being beset with injuries at the fag end of his career.
What exactly it is we don’t know yet but it’s certainly not good news for RCB at present. Let’s hope his apparent shortcoming, if one really has to choose, is only confined to the IPL. There are two World T20s in next two years, and India would need a flawless Kohli in order to adorn the cabinet which has only one World T20 trophy as of now.
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