Kohli's form a concern

Delhiite has managed only 51 runs in his last five outings

Kohli's form a concern

From Delhi to Dhaka and from Hobart to Hambantota, Virat Kohli stacked up as many as seven one-day hundreds in a span of just about nine months, all of them in winning causes.

The knocks in Hobart (133 n.o. against Sri Lanka) and Dhaka (183 against Pakistan) were especially special because they helped India keep their qualification chances alive from an improbable position in the tri-series Down Under and the Asia Cup. It’s a different matter India didn’t make the finals of either tournament because the results of other matches didn’t go their way but Kohli’s imperious innings took him to another level as a player.

Coupled with centuries in Tests in Adelaide, Bangalore (against New Zealand) and Nagpur (against England), Kohli even earned a high praise from Rahul Dravid, who called him the best Indian player across all formats.

With Virender Sehwag out of the one-day set-up and Gautam Gambhir battling to retain his place in the side, Kohli should have been facing no real competition to take up the mantle but suddenly things don’t appear rosy for the youngster.

While there appears to be no end to India’s losing streak, there’s no apparent threat to Dhoni the skipper.

Ironic as it may seem, he’s only strengthening his position as the leader of the side. Dhoni’s return to form certainly has helped his cause, but it’s also the lack of runs from the so called contenders that has left many rooting for the Jharkhandi.

Kohli could have pushed his case had he continued his sublime form during England’s Test series. Notwithstanding his fighting century in the final Test when the series had already been decided, the Delhi batsman has left an impression that he still has some distance to go before he could be handed the reins. His form in the last five one-dayers, starting from the match in Pallekele against Sri Lanka to the one against England in Rajkot, has been disappointing. The right-hander has managed just 51 runs in five outings, with a highest of 23. This is not to pick on Kohli but just to stress the fact that how crucial his form is to India’s fortunes as they have lost three of those five matches.

What has been more obvious in his last four ODI innings is his desperate effort to get amongst runs. While he is no grafter in the true sense, Kohli is neither a see-ball-hit-ball batsman.

He is someone who grows on the bowlers as the innings wears on. Given his range of strokes, time and again he has shown that he can make up for the balls he consumes at the beginning.

This is precisely the reason Dhoni underscores why he and Suresh Raina can afford to come down the order because both of them can go after the attack right from ball one.

The willingness to build an innings has been conspicuous by its absence in the last few outings of Kohli. He almost appears desperate to score runs and his ways of dismissals clearly reflect that.

Walking in after the openers had provided a rare good start against England on Friday, Kohli could have afforded to spend some time in the middle but the 24-year-old appeared to be in a hurry to finish the match but only saw his own end.

Dream run

It’s not to suggest that Kohli is out of form. He has had a dream run for more than a year and he is bound to go through such lows. However, given the recent nature of his stints at the crease could it be that he is feeling a bit tired?

Along with Dhoni and Gambhir, Kohli is the only player who has played non-stop cricket since the Test series against New Zealand last year. He hasn’t missed a single match whether it’s Tests, T20s or ODIs. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to rest the youngster for a match or two because time away from action may actually get him refreshed. This will also provide an opportunity to test Cheteshwar Pujara who has been in the form of his life and is more than eager to prove his credentials in the shorter version.

It shouldn’t be a problem even if Pujara does well at number three. Kohli should be made aware that his position at one-drop is secure for some time to come.

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