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Virat Kohli's captaincy skills have never been more in doubt than they are now

ANALYST
Feature
1.15K   //    Timeless

Kohli has impressed in every way as a batsman, but his captaincy remains unconvincing
Kohli has impressed in every way as a batsman, but his captaincy remains unconvincing

Lionel Messi is a magician on the football field, a conjurer that regularly stuns the world with his art. But there is one glaring mark on his otherwise spotless career: he has never won a World Cup with his own country, Argentina. And the reason for this is obvious. A team is only ever as good as its weakest player.

Just as we see in sci-fi movies with doppelgangers in parallel universes, Lionel Messi's doppelganger in the world of cricket would be Virat Kohli.

I have always been a loyal RCB supporter. Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli - who would not have liked RCB? Even if you support another team, there has always been that burning desire to see one of these batting giants showcase their mastery. Even after Gayle's departure, RCB's batting lineup still quite excited me.

The large time differences in New Zealand and India prevent me from watching IPL games that start at 3:30 AM.  My rules are simple - if RCB wins, I watch the highlights. If they don't, then I go look up what Kohli had to say after the match.

I have to admit, my IPL watch time has seen a significant free-fall, much like my faith in RCB. As every single post-match presentation has gone by, Kohli has looked more and more bereft; lacking words to explain what went wrong.

This is a master of the game being pulled down by his teammates. And what was saddening was that Kohli too dropped a catch in the last match: the metaphoric representation of total disarray. If a leader like Kohli seems to be mentally affected, then it has all gone wrong.

There have been two other instances where the spark was gone from his eyes. 'That' horrid tour of England in 2014, and the 2015 World Cup semi-final, when he top-edged a pull shot and departed without fulfilling a nation's massive expectations. The same King Kohli was now walking with his head bowed in disappointment.

This might not be the first time he has found himself in a hole, but this time it looks different. In England, he was still a young cricketer playing under the shadow of established Test cricketers. There was not enough pressure of expectation. He wasn't the captain of the team. Now he captains his country in all three formats.

And there is something new floating about in the media nowadays. For the first time ever, people are questioning Kohli's captaincy credentials. First it was due to Australia's 3-2 come-from-behind miracle, and now RCB's sixth straight loss.

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Kohli put the ghosts of England to rest last year, where he hammered over 500 runs in an otherwise forgettable series from other Indian batsmen. To those that questioned his big ego after that World Cup semi-final, he replied with a stunning 83* in a virtual quarterfinal in the World T20 in India.

In fact, the right-hander has now scored an incredible 41 hundreds in the 50-over format. From a brash teenager, Kohli has risen so greatly and raised the bar so high that he has become worthy of comparisons with the great Sachin Tendulkar.

In 2014, a boy rose up to become a man. In 2015, a man rose to become a legend. In 2019, will a legend rise to become a captain?

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