Dubai: Virat Kohli is under fire for failing in the fifth and final Test against England at Edgbaston. After a prolonged slump, his position in the team is being questioned. The former Indian captain has not scored a century since 2019, but that doesn’t mean he has not scored at all!
It is just that Kohli is judged by a different yardstick due to his stupendous record. In a recent interview, former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin summed it up in just one sentence. “When Kohli gets a half century it is considered as a failure,” he said on Kohli’s standing on international stage.
Kohli is probably in his worst form by his own admission. Still, he averages 49.53 in Tests. Baying for his blood after India’s loss is sheer injustice to a player who has always worn his heart on his sleeve.
Contribution as skipper
When luck runs out, a batter will find strange ways to get dismissed. In the second innings, Kohli was surprised by the extra bounce off a delivery from Ben Stokes and the resultant edge was dropped by wicketkeeper Sam Billings. But bad luck has been following Kohli. The dropped catch went into the hands of Joe Root at first slip.
Kohli contribution as a skipper cannot be easily forgotten as he brought a winning culture into the team, especially on away tours.
India did not lose the Edgbaston Test because of the lack of runs on the board. The problem lies elsewhere. India lost due to the negative or the defensive approach and due to the lack of imagination in England’s second innings.
England were allowed to dictate terms while chasing a target of 378 on the fourth day. Unfortunately, Jasprit Bumrah lacked experience. leading the side for the first time. After the early assault by the openers, Alex Lees and Zak Crawley, India allowed easy runs to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow by spreading the field to cut the boundaries.
India didn’t play this kind of cricket six months ago under Kohli’s leadership. One can’t blame Bumrah for the failure, but the entire team management under Rahul Dravid is guilty of not trying something different.
The team could have given a few overs to off-spinner Hanuma Vihari or a part-time spinner like Shreyas Iyer to get a breakthrough when the wicket was offering more spin than swing and seam. Instead, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur were allowed to operate for a total of 26 overs and they gave away 163 runs during those overs, a run rate too high even for a One-Day International.
Former captain Kohli was left shaking his head when the partnership was developing between Root and Bairstow, clearly indicating that something is amiss. Sadly, the man who saw India dominate the first four Tests of the series at the helm must have been upset with the aggressive intent that was lacking during England’s second innings. England’s captain new captain Ben Stokes tried to bring himself on or Root to upset the rhythm of the Indian batters and have found success in this Test. The visitors did not take a cue from that.
It’s not the end of the world when India lost a Test without two of their best players, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, and finished the series 2-2, but pointing fingers at Kohli is certainly not in the right direction.