He was a man they called the king. He was a batsmen bowlers feared, crowds cheered and the opposition tried to rile up. Not that it would ever yield any successful results. In playing cricket for a decade, Virat Kohli produced 7,600 plus glorious runs, firing 27 centuries.
The last or should one say the most latest one came in November of 2019. Should Virat not score any more anytime soon, it would mean one of the high priests of batting, no saint by nature of perpetual aggression, would have gone century-less in two years of playing Test match cricket.
That the last hundred came at a day-nighter, a Test against visitors Bangladesh cannot assuage any die-hard whatsoever, who is now counting days, perhaps on a daily basis, as to when might the king return to the throne.
But there’s a moment of grave concern where the Indian batting line-up- not only king Kohli– is concerned.
Pujara is not making runs. When might he, is something no clairvoyant gifted with future-predicting powers can suggest. It’s something none can predict using any amount of fantasy gaming apps. Moreover, Rahane, a fifty scorer in one inning and then, a searcher of consistent runs the very next moment, isn’t firing too. What doesn’t help is to pass the burden of run making to Rohit Sharma alone.
In facing over a century of deliveries, Rohit’s 19 were precious runs in India’s horribly shallow 78. This is when Virat Kohli made 7 and the man nicknamed the ‘next Wall’ made a solitary run.
Not that Rahane produced a mind boggling effort, although sticking around during his 18 run knock for 9 overs, i.e., 54 deliveries to be precise.
That being told, India’s batting offers the confidence of watching a pile of mules running in a contest marked for stallions.
Might hurt the devoted Indian cricket fan, one of which the author of the piece has been, especially during the Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman days.
But what will hurt even further if Kohli doesn’t fight back and lead by an example. He must be vary of one fact and one alone: it’s not that it’s all’s over. There are 2 more contests to go including one hugely Indian inning, the third and possibly, the last where this very Test at Leeds is concerned.
Where Virat Kohli is disappointing is that thus far, he’s not worked out the strategy on facing Jimmy Anderson yet.
It’s simpler than he would come to know and the author of this piece is no cricketer or expert.
Can’t play a bowler, take the single, cut down all shots outside off where a majority of your wickets in England’s bowler-friendly conditions have gone.
Easier than it sounds, right?
But what else would you say besides hoping that Kohli fathoms what’s evident and practical- he will not be losing his captaincy- let’s face facts- if another Test is lost. What he could- is perhaps some modicum of self-confidence.
What he ought to do, therefore, is to cut down the strike time whilst facing Jimmy Anderson.
Is there a lesson in Tendulkar- remembering the master! In Australia, after noting that the lofted cover drive was proving to be his undoing, Tendulkar refrained from hitting the ball on the off or to the covers, especially when confronted by a dangerous looking Brett Lee, his nemesis at that time.
What’s changed until that point in time, a decade and a half in the past, until now is that only the venue, and the opponent have changed.
The situation, however, remains the same.
It’s Anderson over Lee. It’s Virat here not the Master Blaster, the problem, however, remains the same. How to tackle England’s national treasure- a ball-busting storekeeper of 1,000 plus first-class wickets?
Just take singles, you’d think as a fan and wane out Anderson.
The runs, they’ll have to come with time. The freebies shall come too. Make time in the middle to face the likes of Moeen Ali- not the scariest bowler to face and Curran- not the most experienced.
Rest, the master himself, King Kohli knows it all. We can’t teach him. One who has a record of scoring Test runs at an average of 51.4 doesn’t need anyone to tell him what or what not to do.
Forget not he’s still, whilst he’s being mocked, a man with 27 centuries, 4 more than the incredible Joe Root!
Only parting words are- just don’t lose hope, Virat. Your numbers much like your name warrant you to witness the ‘grandeur,’ and it’s grandeur that your batting creates each time you spend time in the middle and get a feel of the contest!
2014 was past. It’s history. Think of how beautifully and studiously did you come back in 2018 and just go for it.