Virat Kohli chat
The form of Virat Kohli will be once again under scrutiny in the two remaining T20Is against the West Indies. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Kolkata: If the composure of Suryakumar Yadav as a finisher and young Ravi Bishnoi’s promise as wrist spinner were the two main takeaways from India’s six-wicket win in the first T20I against the West Indies, there was a ticklish worry too. No prizes for guessing, it’s about Virat Kohli’s form again.

As expected, there were no practice sessions for the teams on Thursday ahead of the second game on Friday, but the master batsman’s concern about his own form was evident late on Wednesday evening. Much after the match finished at the Eden and when the teams were wrapping up at the dressing rooms, Kohli headed back at the ground and was seen having an extended chat with Rahul Dravid and Vikram Rathour - the head coach and batting coach, respectively,

There has been no dearth of support from the team management - and rightly so after what Kohli has brought to the table for Indian cricket all these years - but the denial mode is perhaps not helping. Rohit Sharma, the new fulltime white ball captain, snubbed a mediaperson during their pre-match virtual conference by asking them to ‘keep quiet for a while,’ but should the T20 series see another lean patch like the ODIs - then it will be difficult to keep the tongues from wagging again.


The irony of Kohli’s cameo innings of 17 (off 13 balls) was that he looked in fine fettle, picked up the singles and twos against the spinners in attack and launched into an imperious lofted drive off Akeal Hossain for a boundary down the ground. He perished in trying for a similar shot a few balls later - this time off Fabian Allen - and failed to clear the longer boundary at long off. The sense of frustration in his face, despite his side being hardly in a spot at that juncture, betrayed that he himself was irked no end at the mode of his dismissal.

Interestingly enough, even Rohit and then Ishan Kishan’s dismissals came in a similar fashion in trying to clear the boundary - and this was a pertinent point raised by Rathour on the eve of the series. He dwelt on the benefit of playing in bigger venues like at Kolkata and Ahmedabad as part of their preparation for the T20 World Cup in Australia - with an eye to cope with venues like Melbourne and Sydney.

Needless to say, those two dismissals will not be spoken in the same breath as Kohli - and this is the cross he has to bear with now like Sachin Tendulkar in the latter years of his career. The clamour for Kohli’s 71st century, with the last coming more than two years ago, serves as a reminder of Tendulkar’s agonising wait for the 100th international century - till it eventually came in a losing cause against Bangladesh.

100th Test round the corner

It’s a proven fact that he is going through a lean patch - notwithstanding the media chatter. His scores in the recent ODI series in Ahmedabad had been 8,18 and 0 while Kohli has scored 142 runs in six ODI matches this year where he averages a dismal 23.66, the lowest for the former world No. 1 ranked player since he made his international debut for India way back in 2008.

The captaincy often gives a top performer some immunity for lack of runs, but he doesn’t have that in any format now. There is another T20 series waiting against Sri Lanka, along with his 100th Test appearance round the corner in Mohali.

It will be interesting to see how Kohli handles the pressure from here onwards!