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CricTracker: What’s wrong with Virat Kohli?

Again? In yesterday’s T20I against England, Virat Kohli was dismissed for a duck again. It had already happened twice in the England tests, a series in which he averaged 28.67. This is getting concerning. Kohli hasn’t scored a century since the 23rd of November 2019. Just let that sink in. What began as brief lean patch for Kohli has mutated into a genuine drought. The Indian fans had strong opinions on his lack of form to say the least. Some even believe that Kohli must be dropped from the side. These are dark times for the Indian skipper.

But why? Why is one of the all time greats struggling to score even a single century? What’s wrong with Virat Kohli? But the problem is, nothing seems to be wrong. There are no glaring technical weaknesses in his game. He is not playing like someone who doesn’t know how to hold a bat. In fact, he’s batted really well in certain games. But he always finds a random, indescribable way to get out.

Sure, Kohli has been getting out to spin of late but there’s no rhyme or reason to his dismissals. Take his recent duck for example: Adil Rashid bowled a harmless half-tracker outside off stump. Peak Virat Kohli would have pierced the gap with the incisiveness of a surgeon. Instead, he tried to muscle an ambitious cut shot and got out. It always seems to be a some sort of weird brain fade that gets Kohli out. And in some ways, that’s worse than having a technical flaw. If you can’t see what’s wrong how are you supposed to fix it?

So that only leaves one option: a loss of confidence. But that’s impossible. Virat Kohli is an indestructible demigod with superhuman mental endurance. No he isn’t. He’s a human. An imperfect, oxygen consuming human who happens to be rather good at batting. Like the rest of us, he is allowed to have phases of self doubt and insecurity. Just because he saunters to the crease as if he’s the king of the world, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have that little voice nagging him at the back of his mind. He’s just better at taming it than others.

But after a few months of no century, that nagging little voice became louder. “You haven’t scored a century in ages,” it chided to Kohli “you’ve lost it, you’re terrible,”. Usually, Kohli ignores the little voice but that was when he scored century after century, brimming with confidence. But now he wasn’t, so he listened. But then it started nagging Kohli about the thing sportspeople fear most: letting others down. “You’re not paying back the love your fans give you,” it scolded “You’re letting the team down.” The prospect of letting others down would hurt anyone but none more than Virat Kohli

He is the figurehead for 1.4 billion people’s dreams. He is the subject of immense adoration but also the victim of the darkest of hate. Kohli is the captain of the world’s craziest nation in the sport they are most crazed about. And then combine that with the cruel nature of batsmanship: one slight error could end your contribution for the day. One slight error could enrage a nation. The pressure is something that you and I can’t even imagine. It’s a miracle that Kohli has thrived in it for so long.

But now he has succumbed to it and there’s nothing wrong with that. Virat Kohli is an imperfect, oxygen-consuming human performing one of the most mentally taxing roles in sport. He was always bound to have a period of drought like this. But has this drought endured for too long? It probably has. But what’s in the past is in the past; it’s time for Kohli to forge on to the future. Greatness isn’t how well you do when things are going swimmingly, it’s how you bounce back when the going gets tough. Kohli has done it before but can he do it again?

My article was published on CricTracker:

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