Virat Kohli has thrilled fans with his majestic bat over the years. But at the relatively young age of 33 this brilliant batsman who adorns thousands of billboards and magazines and has been a scourge of international teams around the world, finds himself on the slippery slope to oblivion.
His former India coach Ravi Shastri believes Kohli, considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time, could be lost to the game with a “fried brain” if he does not take or be given a break. Shastri and the former India captain formed a formidable partnership over a period of seven years and that included taking India to the top of the Test table; pulling off a first Test series win in Australia and hoisting a number of other trophies. In that period Kohli scored Test centuries against every Test nation except Bangladesh and piled on the runs in every format of the game as well. Kohli and Shastri also developed a potent pace bowling unit that now ranks among the best. Previously India was best known for its top-flight spinners but now armed with equally talented fast bowlers and a solid batting lineup India climbed up the charts and stayed atop the Test rankings for five consecutive years.
Last year Kohli was stripped of the Twenty20 captaincy and he later voluntarily stepped down as captain of the ODI squad and the Test squad as well. At the end of the 2021 Indian Premier League season, Kohli dropped another bombshell by quitting as captain of his IPL club — the Royal Challengers Bangalore — saying he wanted some space and time to manage his workload. No longer burdened with the captaincy, fans expected to see King Kohli, as he is popularly known, to churn out the big runs. Unfortunately, it’s been one disappointment after another. Against Lucknow Super Giants he fell to a first-ball duck to lanky South African paceman Marco Jansen and a few days later against Sunrisers Hyderabad he was dismissed for a second successive golden duck by fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera. On Tuesday he was promoted to open the innings in the loss to Rajasthan but failed again, falling for nine. His total in eight innings is a meagre 128. Following those two ducks the alarm bells went off and Shastri was the first to chime in. “Kohli is overcooked,’’ he said. “If anyone needs a break, it’s him,” Shastri told Star Sports.
“Whether it’s two months or a month and a half, whether it’s after (the) England (tour in July) or before England — he needs a break because he has got six to seven years of cricket left in him and you don’t want to lose that with a fried brain.”
Former England captain Kevin Pietersen also suggested Kohli take a vacation. “The guy has had so much to deal with, from marriage to baby to media scrutiny and all on his personal life. He is the biggest star on show,” Pietersen added. “Virat Kohli needs to say: ‘Cricket boots, for six months, I will see you later.’ Turn off social media, go and get re-energized.”
BUTTLER, RAHUL SHINE
While Kohli’s bat is in cold storage both Jos Buttler and KL Rahul have set this high-octane league on fire with sparkling centuries. The smiling Englishman has hammered three tons for Rajasthan Royals and scored 491 runs in seven matches. His latest gem came on Sunday when he hoisted a 65-ball 116 versus Delhi Capitals. Although he managed just eight on Tuesday against Bangalore, he still stands an excellent chance of topping Kohli’s 2016 record of 973 runs in a season. His previous tons included 103 against Kolkata Knight Riders and 100 versus Mumbai Indians.
Lucknow Super Giants’ skipper Rahul has been in magnificent form and with his heroics, at the crease he is being pegged as a future star. Rahul got his first and second centuries over slumping Mumbai Indians. He posted 103 off 62 balls for his second ton and his total now stands at 368 runs in eight matches.
KEEP AN EYE ON KIRSTEN
There was a time when no one would turn down a job to coach England. But not today. Rob Key, England’s new director of men’s cricket, cast his line far and wide but all he had were a few nibbles and failed to land the catch he wanted. Among those who politely turned him down were Australians Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer, West Indian Ottis Gibson, a former England bowling coach and Mahela Jayawardene, the former Sri Lankan captain. Key’s decision to split the red-ball and white-ball roles ruled out Langer. That has opened the door for South African Gary Kirsten who piloted India to the World Cup in 2011 and later took reins of the Proteas. Kirsten had applied for the job previously but lost to Chris Silverwood who was sacked after England’s calamitous Ashes series. Hopefully, Kirsten will end Key’s endless search.