Will Virat Kohli regain his run-scoring touch at the Asia Cup 2022? That’s the question on every cricket fan’s lips. More so since the former Indian captain has suffered an extended run drought.
Every time a tournament comes around, the question pops up. It never seems to go away, even though Kohli has been scoring. That is not enough to satiate the hunger of cricket fans and the media. They want runs by the buckets, and more often.
To be absolutely fair to Kohli, he’s been scoring runs. But not at the phenomenal rate at which he had been scoring. The cricketing world has got so used to Kohli’s relentless run-scoring that anything less is considered a failure. So, Kohli has been a victim of his incredible success.
One good knock and Kohli would be on his way. That’s what every cricketing great has said. I believe that would come in the Asia Cup.
How does he silence his critics? Looks like the only way is to strike a purple patch. Anything less won’t do. Centuries will do the trick. Much like Joe Root, although the Englishman’s run-glut has been in Tests.
What’s remarkable is Kohli’s mindset. He doesn’t seem unduly perturbed. Kohli is clear about his technique, as evident from his interview with Star Sports. He feels he hasn’t acquired any flaws in his technique and has worked at his game zealously.
Well, you could point to Kohli’s tendency to waft at deliveries on the corridor outside the off-stump. But then, which batsman doesn’t? Top-class batsmen figure out a way to deal with it, yet they perish despite playing the balls late or leaving the dangerous ones. The problem is when you are out of form, you are out of luck as well: you nick more often, and edges carry.
Back to Kolhi and his technique. In many ways, he’s like the Indian coach Rahul Dravid, who fine-tunes his technique to suit the changing conditions. Dravid reportedly used bats with higher sweet spots to tackle the higher bounce of Australian wickets.
Kohli and his technique
Kohli is also incessantly looking to improve his scoring, including tweaking his technique to adapt to the demands of the game. I remember him telling one interviewer how he changes his grip minutely to beat the cover-point fielder. Here’s an orthodox batsman who continually refines his technique in quest of more success. So why aren’t the runs coming?
That’s because cricket is a strange game. All cricketers, no matter which grade of cricket they play, will tell you that they feel invincible when they are in good touch. Every shot comes off the middle of the bat; mishits will fall beyond fielders’ reach, and even rank-bad shots clear the fence. A player in sublime form will rattle bowlers, who will spray the ball around. All that works in the batsman’s favour.
In contrast, nothing will go right for a batsman struggling for runs. All the shots will find fielders. No reprieves from catchers either. And bowlers feel they have a chance to claim a wicket, so their tails will be up. In such a situation, it’s easy to slip into negativity. Only a bushel full of runs will clear the cobwebs from the head.
Kohli’s a got a fine head screwed on his shoulders. He’s not swayed by praise, but criticism sure rankles him. That’s because he plays his cricket hard, and any adverse comment is seen as belittling his efforts. This means he has collected plenty of carping critics along the way.
But Kohli’s unfazed. He trusts his game. One good knock and Kohli would be on his way. That’s what every cricketing great has said. I believe that would come in the Asia Cup. Dubai International Stadium will witness a turnaround in Kohli’s fortunes.
My colleague, Sports Editor A.K.S. Satish, who watched Kohli at the ICC Academy nets, couldn’t stop gushing about his strokeplay. He’s sure that Kolhi will hit his stride in the tournament. So do I.