Virat Kohli
Standout performer: Virat Kohli the batsman was in his elements to score a valuable half-century against Pakistan on Sunday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Indian skipper Virat Kohli has never been a great believer in hiding his emotions. A trait which has often polarised opinions about him - while some find him transparent, others may call it arrogance.

It once again came to the fore when soon after the 10-wicket defeat at the hands of Pakistan in their marquee match-up at the ICC T20 World Cup on Sunday, he looked affected by a suggestion in the media conference that they could have given young Ishan Kishan a break ahead of vice-captain Rohit Sharma.

‘‘It’s a very brave question. You want us to drop Rohit Sharma from T20 Internationals?,’’ Kohli replied, throwing in his lot with the ‘Hitman,’ a white ball giant who created a record with five centuries on the trot in the 50-overs World Cup in 2019. Sharma fell for a duck in the first over, caught in front of the wicket by a lethal yorker from Shaheen Afridi - who made a strong case to be considered as the best left-arm fast bowler across all formats now.


Kohli may be loathe to admitting it, but the most prolific batsman of this generation has a lot riding on this tournament - which will be his last as the captain of India in this format. While the batsman in him will be satisfied at the manner he soaked in the initial pressure after India were reduced to 31 for three after the powerplay overs, the captain admitted that their rivals had answers to all the challenges they posed for them.

There is exactly a week’s gap - almost a luxury in a tight tournament like this - before India take on Kane Williamson’s New Zealand at the same venue on October 31. It’s a welcome break by his own admission with the tournament coming right at the back of a high octance IPL and before that a demanding Test series against England as well as the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. Just ponder this, the core of his team who plays all formats like Kohli, Rohit, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Rishabh Pant, Ravi Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja had been on the road for nearly six months now.

Looking jaded

It’s no exaggeration to say that the likes of Shami and Bumrah looked a shade jaded during their spells and Kohli had qualms about admitting that playing a full-fledged season had been tough on his players and a longer break between two games will help them come back in prime physical condition for the match against Kiwis - who can be a tricky opponent even on these conditions.

Given the format of the tournament where the top two teams in a group of six go through to the semi-finals, it may not exactly time for pressure yet for Kohli & co. However, the uncertainties of the T20 format does impact the team’s mental space after a comprehensive defeat in the opener.

In the last two and-a-half years, Kohli’s unit has come back strongly from early reverses - but those were Test matches. It will be interesting to see how the partnership of Kohli and Ravi Shastri can bounce back to end their drought of a major ICC crown before the change of guard at the top.