Thursday 14 August 2014 

Virat Kohli - A Number 11 Batting At Four?

Virat Kohli departs
Virat Kohli has endured a terrible time with the bat in England
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

When Virat Kohli conquered his demons with a century in Australia, the only one the Indians managed on that wretched tour in 2011, he was almost immediately earmarked as India’s next number four, a place that before him was occupied for 20 years by the best number four the cricketing world had ever seen.

You wouldn’t want to follow up on an act like that, but such is the curse of great talent. The wars you wage are always bigger, much bigger.

India’s best batsman right now is waging one such war in England in a series where he has been so bad, you would think he was batting with a stump instead of a bat.

Such has been his touch Indians are used to, they believed he could still score either side of the wicket with nothing more than a stump.

Virat Kohli averages 13.5 in eight innings this series, lower than that of Mohammed Shami. Even Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India’s potential bowling all-rounder, has scored more than twice his tally of 108 runs with a highest score of just 39.

However, the most alarming stat that most people do not pay attention to is the number of balls faced in eight innings: 216. Even Ravindra Jadeja has faced more deliveries than that. Virat Kohli has two more innings to repair those stats, as much for his own sake, as for the sake of the team.

He is a proud cricketer and these numbers will give him nightmares for years to come if he doesn’t conquer them on these very shores.

There is a distinct pattern in all of Kohli’s dismissals. Adjudged LBW once, lost his off-stump shouldering arms once and caught in the slips or by the wicket-keeper - that has been Kohli’s sorry tale.

That happens only when a batsman isn’t really assured or tight enough in the corridor of uncertainty.

Kohli is perhaps the best driver of the ball in the game. He is one of the few Indian players whose back-foot play is just as sound as the front-foot play.

Yet, he is being fidgety, nicking at balls he had no business dealing with, pushing at deliveries he should have been let go with utter indifference.

James Anderson has had his number in the last few Tests and rightly so, because Anderson pulls exactly the aces that intimidate cricketers short of runs, balls that pitch in the corridor and move either way.

This is Virat Kohli's first full tour to England in the playing XI and definitely not his last. He has been seen practicing hard in the nets, although, the timing has been awry even against the Indian pacers in the nets.

However, the one thing Kohli shouldn’t forget is that India needs him to spend time on the field as much as they would need him to score runs.

Time in Test matches, is as essential a commodity as runs, sometimes more so. Perhaps he has to take a leaf out of his predecessor’s book, that wonderful tale specifically, of his double-century in Australia scored without a single cover drive.

If Sachin Tendulkar could manage it against a high quality pace attack, Virat Kohli can do the same, making the bowlers bowl more to him, on his legs, an area where he can whip the balls all day long with disdain.

© Cricket World 2014

Fixtures & Results

9th-13th July: 1st Test, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
India 457 & 391-9 dec. (Binny 78) drew with
England 496 (Root 154no, Anderson 81)
17th-21st July: 2nd Test, Lord's, London
India 295 & 342 (Vijay 95, Jadeja 68) beat
England 319 & 223 (Sharma 7-74) by 95 runs
27th-31st July: 3rd Test, The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
England 569-7 dec. & 205-4 dec. beat
India 330 & 178 (Ali 6-67) by 266 runs
7th-11th August: 4th Test, Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
England 367 (Root 77, Buttler 70) beat
India 152 & 166 by an innings & 54 runs
15th-19th August: 5th Test, The Kia Oval, London
England 486 (Root 149no, Cook 79) beat
India 148 & 94 by an innings & 244 runs
25th August: 1st ODI, Bristol
Match abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain
27th August: 2nd ODI, SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff
India 304-6 (Raina 100, Woakes 4-52) beat
England 161 (Jadeja 4-28) by 133 runs (D/L)
30th August: 3rd ODI, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
India 228-4 (Rayudu 64no) beat
England 227 (Cook 44) by six wickets
2nd September: 4th ODI, Edgbaston, Birmingham
India 212-1 (Rahane 106, Dhawan 97no) beat
England 206 (Moeen Ali 67) by nine wickets
5th September: 5th ODI, Headingley, Leeds
England 294-7 (Root 113, Buttler 49) beat
India 253 (Jadeja 87) by 41 runs
7th September: T20I, Edgbaston, Birmingham
England 180-7 (Morgan 71, Hales 40)
India 177-5 (Kohli 66) by three runs