Kolkata: A blurred shot of the Royal Challengers Bangalore dressing room during their last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad had gone viral as it showed Sanjay Bangar, their head coach, putting his arm around Virat Kohli as the latter returned after his third golden duck in the IPL 2022. Nothing wrong with a gesture of commisseration - especially since Bangar had worked as the batting coach of the national team for over four years - and enjoys a good equation with the former captain.
The problem lies in the fact that Kohli’s form has become such a sensitive topic at this point that he could have done without anything which can be deemed patronising to him. For example, former Indian head coach Ravi Shastri, a staunch backer of Kohli said sometime back that the master batter was ‘overcooked’ and should take a break from the IPL and come back with his batteries recharged - a point of view shared by a few other TV pundits. Sunil Gavaskar, the batting legend, took a diametrically opposite stand as he felt staying away from the game will not help Kohli get his touch back.
In a video released on the RCB social media handles, the most prolific scorer in the history of IPL gave his repartee to this without mincing words - that the best option to shut out the noise (read: TV pundits) will be to mute the TV channels. “They (the critics) can’t be in my shoes, they can’t feel what I feel, they can’t live my life, they can’t live those moments,” Kohli said. “How do you cut out the noise? You either mute the TV or don’t listen to or pay attention to what people are saying. I do both of these things.”
There is a note of despondency in such a recipe. While much has been written about the master batter’s prolonged dry spell with the bat, not to speak of the absence of a century for over 100 competitive games, Kohli should be ready for such ‘noise’ rather than live in denial. At 33 years and with 14 years of international cricket behind him, he is still the best judge of what ails him - as his buy-in to the decision of him opening the innings for RCB indicates.
In the lone half-century (58) that Kohli has got so far this season, he was ready to scrap it around - and it was the right way for him to get more time out in the middle. The first ball duck against Sunrisers, incidentally, could have happened to the best of batsmen in form as Kohli tried to flick a delivery from left-arm spinner Jagadeesha Sucheeth and was caught by Kane Williamson at short mid wicket.
In 12 innings so far, Kohli has scored a measley 216 with an average of 19.64, but that could again change as the fourth placed RCB still has two group games to go - not to forget another possible two if they can end up among top four. They are on 14 points and are back to the winning ways - and what’s heartening for the team management is that the middle order seems to be taking care of itself with young Rajat Patidar and Mahipal Lomror ready to take the responsibility with Glenn Maxwell.
This should allow Kohli to take his time to settle down against a potent pace attack of Punjab Kings on Friday while others can bat around him.
Catch the match
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Punjab Kings
Venue: Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai
Start: 6 pm UAE