Has Virat Kohli's seemingly invincible armour developed a small chink?
He is undoubtedly the greatest batsman of the modern era. At the age of 31, he is already second in the list of batsmen with the most ODI hundreds and is closing in on a whopping 12000 ODI runs. He has left his mark in varied places around the world and is the man who is touted to go past most of Sachin Tendulkar’s seemingly gargantuan records in ODI cricket.
Virat Kohli has been a run-scoring machine in the last five years, and has redefined the meaning of consistency with the willow. It seemed as if no bowler could find a way to breach his defence; his technique was so fool-proof that all that bowlers could pray was for some luck. Well, that armour of invincibility might have developed a small chink.
Let us look back at the last three dismissals of Kohli in ODI cricket. In the last ODI of the series against Australia in January 2020, Kohli was closing in on his 44th ODI hundred. Josh Hazlewood bowled a full length delivery, Kohli went across the line, missed the ball and it rattled onto the stumps through bat and pad. Kohli departed for 89, 11 runs short of a well-deserved century.
Let us fast forward to the first ODI against New Zealand. Kohli had just completed his half century and was in cruise mode. Ish Sodhi bowled a googly, Kohli tried to defend the ball, the ball went through his bat and pad and the stumps were dislodged once again. And in the second ODI against the Kiwis too, a similar thing happened. Tim Southee’s delivery tailed in a little, Kohli again went across the line, missed the ball and his stumps were rattled. This is the first time in his 12-year long ODI career that he has been bowled on three consecutive occasions.
Three consecutive innings across two different continents and two different teams, Kohli’s manner of dismissals have been similar. He has also failed to register a single ODI ton since August 2019. Even though he has been amongst runs, such a long period between two Kohli hundreds has not been witnessed for a long time.
In the year 2014, Kohli was found playing away from the body, and this was capitalised by England pace bowling legend James Anderson. The fast bowler scalped Kohli on four occasions during the five-match Test series, and Kohli averaged a miserable 13.40. But then, Kohli went back to the nets, sweated it out, and by the time he went to England again in the year 2018, he amassed 593 runs to prove that he was the king again.
Now, a flaw seems to have developed in Kohli's technique. Probably bowlers can slowly find a way to breach his defence. Probably it shows that nobody in sport can be invincible forever. Kohli will surely find a way to overcome this flaw, but for now, his armour of invincibility may have developed a small chink.
Published 10 Feb 2020, 15:03 IST