Star batsman of Indian Cricket, Virat Kohli, has been making news for a long time for his class and intensity on the ground. This time news around him is not how he broke another record while batting but his continuous failure to make an impact through the bat. This year, Virat stepped down from the captaincy of the Indian Cricket Team and Royal Challengers Banglore. After his announcement of resigning from captaincy, Fans were expecting that he would focus on batting and start scoring runs for the team. After two 40+ scores in this year’s IPL, he has failed miserably to live up to his reputation. After he got out on a golden-duck back-to-back, opinions flowed from across the world.
One of the senior BCCI officials told Insidesport.in “He is a great servant of Indian cricket. But his form from some time is now a huge concern now for the national selectors and BCCI”. Without reading too much into this, it is crystal clear that the indication is towards Virat’s unlikely place in the upcoming T20 world cup. But before arriving at such a hasty conclusion, it is necessary to look at his profile. Virat has 23,000+ International runs in his name with a 50+ average across formats. He has scored 70 centuries in Tests and ODIs though his last century was in 2019, and since then, his fans are eagerly waiting for him to hit his 71st century.
Since 2019, India has played three major ICC tournaments and failed to pick any trophy. Virat’s form also has been a constant question with varying intensity. In this IPL season, Virat’s poor form is hitting a new height as he scored mere 128 runs in 9 matches so far. According to India’s previous coach, Ravi Shastri, Virat is “overcooked” , and he needs to break to rejuvenate himself. Talking to Jatin Sapru on his youtube channel, the 1983 World Cup veteran told, “I think it (a break) is ideal for him because he has played non-stop cricket and has captained the side across all formats. It will be wise of him to take a break. 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,”. Looking at Virat’s record, it would be wise to give him a break to be at service for a more extended time. All the players have gone through low phases, and it is part and parcel of the game. Virat himself had gone through it in his 2014 England tour but made a remarkable comeback in the same year while playing against Australia. Legendary Sachin Tendulkar also had to wait longer than expected to hit his 100th International Century. As the saying goes, form is temporary, but class is permanent.
Is it exhaustion of Captaincy?
Different people act differently in stressful situations. The assumption would be that the role of Captaincy had burdened Virat with responsibility and lowered his average with bat. But numbers hint in the opposite direction. Virat cherished Captaincy of Indian Cricket as if he was born for this endeavor. As captain, his average in test cricket is 58.40 with 20 of 27 centuries, whereas his average is only 40.35 as a non-captain in test cricket.
Similarly, his ODI average as captain is as high as 72, whereas as a player, it is only 50. Only in T20 Cricket, his average is better as a non-captain. It was not the role but continuous cricket he has played with minimal break-in his 14 years of a long career.
From this point, chances of RCB making it into the top 4 are scarce, yet Virat will have an opportunity to shut his critics with his class and capabilities. However, it would not be wrong to get a break from this competitive game of cricket for either remainder of IPL or/ and the upcoming series against South Africa. It would be wise to plan such breaks for the class player rather than dropping him in ICC Tournaments where his expertise and experience would be of most use.