Virat Kohli’s bad form has got every cricket fan worried, especially Indian fans and their reasons are justified. Kohli’s highest score in the Test series is 15 so far with just one Test to go. The concern is widespread to an extent that had Arnab Goswami been anchoring his famous segment ‘The News Hour’, Kohli’s form would be a talking point there as well with his viral dialogue ‘The nation wants to know’.
The following statistics will give you a reason, why we are discussing this at length. Kohli’s scores in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia are 0, 13 in Pune Test, 12, 15 in Bengaluru Test and 6 in Ranchi Test. This is by far the worst form Kohli has encountered since the start of his Test career.
The fact that it is not digestible to most is because he was in terrific in the previous Test series. He recently broke the world-record surpassing Sir Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid’s. Kohli registered his fourth double-hundred on the trot in four consecutive Test series, Bradman-Dravid’s previous record was three on the trot.
But, it seems that the Australian bowler’s strategy has worked wonders for them as they have managed to keep him quiet so far. Kohli’s average is a shocking 9.20 and this series saw him getting out for a duck for the first time on home soil in Tests.
Let’s have a look at the dismissals of Kohli through the Test series-
First innings, Pune Test: Kohli was having a terrific run in the longest format of the game with a double hundred of the previous game against Bangladesh in one-off Test at Hyderabad. In the first Test Kohli got out the left-arm Australian pacer Mitchell Starc trying to chase a ball pitched way outside the offside line. The ball took and outside edge and carried to slip fielder Peter Handscomb.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 28, 2017
That wicket could be considered as a turning point of India’s first innings as they were reduced to 44 for 3 and ending up bundled out for 105. Starc later admitted that he was aiming that one to be an inswinger but it went straight which led to an edge. Kohli played that one way outside the line of offstump which was not a shot one would attempt when the ball is new and a bowler like Starc is in full flow. Kohli got out for a duck which was his first on the home soil in Tests.
Second innings, Pune Test: The second one is a disaster as Kohli seemed to be determined to take India out of danger as they were chasing 431 in fourth innings. O’Keefe was bowling a tight line, Kohli could not pick the line of the ball and shouldered arms on that occasion as he guessed that the ball would turn away from him. But, the ball did not turn at all despite the rough on Pune pitch and Kohli was clean bowled.
That dismissal of Kohli’s was so disheartening to see as it meant that India would lose the match by a big margin and that glimmer of hope for India was back into the pavilion. Kohli could not believe it as he stood there for a few seconds not able to accept the fact that he got out to that delivery.
First innings, Bengaluru Test: Kohli had declared after the humiliating defeat in Pune that Team India will put pressure on Australians from ball one. Though KL Rahul hit a boundary off the first ball, it all went downhill for India after that. Rahul was holding onto one end whereas comeback-man Abhinav Mukund went for a duck and Cheteshwar Pujara fell early.
Kohli was again in the spotlight, well, he always is. It was Lyon’s day as Bengaluru pitch was as pretty close to the one in Pune. Kohli’s ‘shoudler-arms’ dilemma prevailed as this time the ball turned and did not have much bounce in it. Kohli thought it would go down the leg side, but the lack of bounce meant that the ball hits the pad in front of stumps and the Umpire’s finger going straight up.
Kohli reviewed that decision as well but DRS did not seem to favour him as the ball was clearly barging into the stumps. Kohli left the team in danger on the third occasion in the series which resulted in them getting bundled out for 189 in the first innings.
Second innings, Bengaluru Test: India had a good start to the second innings despite Mukund getting out early. Rahul got out after scoring his half-century but Pujara was batting well on the other end. Kohli came in again, this time he looked good, timing the ball well, batting with application against the spinners. But, this time Josh Hazlewood who got his wicket.
Lack of bounce became the villain again. A good length inswinging delivery lacked bounce and hit the pads of Kohli, though it seemed like the ball had got a bit of bat on it’s way. Kohli reviewed it straight away and it looked like he was confident that he was not out. The review went the Australian way again, as Umpire’s call was given more importance in a close call.
First innings, Ranchi Test: India were under pressure again as Australia had scored 451 in the first innings. India too gave a fitting reply with both the openers Murali Vijay and Rahul scoring half-centuries. Kohli had a platform this time, to build his innings as he stepped in with scoreboard reading 193 for 2.
A point to be noted here is that Kohli suffered a shoulder injury on Day 1 of the Ranchi Test trying to save a boundary near the ropes. There was a lot of buzz around Kohli’s return to the field on Day 3 but the buzz was short-lived. Starc’s replacement Pat Cummins came into bowl with the new ball.
Cummins went through with a cover drive on a pitched up delivery. It was not a good move from Kohli fishing outside the off stump line, the ball took an edge and carried to skipper Steven Smith. This time around it was speculated that the shoulder injury has had an impact on him but the drought of runs had been persistent through the series.
Is it the trash talk going around the series or the pressure after losing the Pune Test or is it that the burden of captaincy has started to show on his performance? One thing is for sure, Kohli has never played like this in his carrer.
With the series decider Test at Dharamshala starting on March 25, India needs their star player back-in-form if they are to win another Test series win on the trot and claim Border-Gavaskar Trophy.