Virat Kohli is one of the greatest batsmen across formats in contemporary cricket. He is also amongst the best Indian batsmen in the country’s Test cricket history. Kohli has the highest average at home amongst Indian batsmen with daylight and more daylight before Cheteshwar Pujara follows at number two. But the Indian captain is going through a rough patch and relative to the high standards he sets for himself a very lean one. Kohli was dismissed for an uncharacteristic 11 off 48 deliveries in the first innings in Chennai today after not looking comfortable at the crease for 69 minutes.
Kohli did not look at ease against the pace of Jofra Archer or the spin of Dom Bess. He was tentative outside the off stump and happy to play within himself almost forcefully too defensively. Archer troubled Kohli with the short ball and the fuller length delivery on and outside the off stump.
The off spinner had Kohli in a tangle with the turn and dip the Day 3 Chennai wicket was offering him. On one occasion the Indian captain did not come to the pitch of the delivery and almost got caught at short mid-wicket. Bess finally had his man with a tossed up delivery outside off stump which turned and dipped and took the inside edge of Kohli’s bat for an easy catch at short leg.
He was dismissed for a most Not-Kohli-Like 11 off 48 deliveries scored at a strike rate of 22.92. Kohli has now managed to score just 127 runs in his last 7 Test innings at an average of 18.14 with one solitary fifty.
Kohli was guilty of not using his feet against the off-spinner. He was happy to play from his crease. Unlike his partner Pujara who looked solid in defence and also when he attacked using his feet and coming down the track to the spinners, Kohli was content on playing defensively which ultimately brought about his downfall.
Kohli has been in indifferent form since 2020. He has just managed to score 853 runs in 23 matches (25 innings) across the three formats at a batting average of 35.54 with 7 fifties but no hundreds in this time-frame. The Indian captain has been dismissed for below 30 as many as 14 times during this period – which is a failure rate of 56% – very high for a top-order batsman like Kohli. Such poor has been his form that amongst the 34 batsmen who have scored a minimum of 500 runs in international cricket since the 1st of January, 2020, Kohli ranks at number 30!
Amongst the 10 Indian batsmen who have aggregated a minimum of 300 runs since the 1st of January, 2020, Kohli is at number 8.
Kohli has now not scored an international hundred for 31 innings – the longest such streak in his career. The previous longest hundred-less streak lasted for 25 innings between the Asia Cup in Bangladesh (28th February, 2014) to the ODI home series against the West Indies (11th October, 2014). His last international hundred came against Bangladesh in the Day and Night Test at the Eden Gardens in November 2019.
Kohli has gone through a period of 20 or more innings without scoring an international hundred only on one other occasion in his career – he went hundred-less in 24 innings from the 27th of February, 2011 to the 11th of September, 2011 before registering a ton against England in an ODI in Cardiff on the 16th of September.
All the greats of the game have gone through a slump at some point in their careers. Kohli seems to be going through a dip in form for the last 12 months. With the home team in trouble in the series opener in Chennai they would hope that their talisman gets his touch back and rescues them from a not so familiar situation on their own turf.
Kohli has been the dominant batsman as India dominated the last 7-8 years in Test cricket at home – the sheer ruthlessness of their performance unprecedented in history. After a long time a visiting team is seriously challenging India in their own backyard and threatening to end their rule.
Will Kohli intervene?