Few weeks back, Virat Kohli said if he doesn’t step up with the bat, someone else will. But that is easier said than done. Despite that expected and sensible logic, Kohli is an invaluable asset for the team. His slump in the first two Tests against Australia have quite possibly hurt India more than the disappointing opening slot or the collapses in the first Test.
Before Australia took the field in Pune for the series opener, Kohli had been in sublime form. He had scored double centuries in all four series prior to it – versus West Indies, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh. He had overtaken Virender Sehwag for most runs in a single season for an Indian batsman. He attributed his reason for the flow of runs to be the added responsibility of being the national side’s skipper.
Move to the second day of the Pune Test and all those runs mean for nothing and it is a different ballgame altogether. Kohli’s stay in the middle is an extremely short one with Mitchell Starc sending him back on just the second delivery for a duck. A soft dismissal with Kohli chasing after a wide delivery and snicking it to first slip has done him in. Kohli goes for 0 from 2 balls.
Move to the second innings, Kohli’s dismissal quite easily defines how terribly prepared have been on the surface. He expects turn from Steve O’Keefe but this one doesn’t after pitching on off stump and Kohli lets it go to be bowled out. Kohli goes for 13 from 37 balls.
On to the second Test of the series in Bangalore. The pitch is different but the surface still remains a challenging one. Batting first at a ground he’s accustomed to from his IPL days as Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, Kohli clearly has that second inning dismissal in the back of his mind. This time, Nathan Lyon gets the man. Lyon has Kohli caught plumb with the prolific Indian batsman letting go of an offbreak headed straight for the stumps. Terrible decision to let it go. Kohli goes for 12 from 17 balls.
Into the second innings, with Australia taking an 87 run lead, Kohli’s dismissal is as tough as they come for the TV umpire. Hazlewood has him caught leg before with the bat into the picture at the same time. Not an easy decision to make but it falls to “umpire’s call” in the end. Kohli goes for 15 from 25 balls.
In fact, Kohli’s misjudgement in the first innings of the Bangalore Test drew wrap from Mark Waugh who slammed his decision to let the ball go as ‘negative’. “I know the ball before bounced and hit him on the thigh pad and he’s a bit worried about those two men on the leg side but that’s bread and butter for an Indian batsman (especially) a class player. You just tuck that off the hip. It was very un-Kohli like. He made a point of saying ‘we need to play with much more intent in this game’ but he’s been the prime example of not actually doing that,” he told Fox Sports.
“He’s just thinking negatively because there are men around the bat. He’s thinking if it bounces, he might get an inside edge. As a batsman, you can’t think like that. He can hit that ball in his sleep for runs. He’s obviously thinking a little bit negatively and that’s rubbed off on a few of his teammates,” Waugh added.
So that’s a collective score of 40 runs from 81 balls for the best batsman for India at the moment. The man who was getting India out of cage earlier and building innings to extend advantage, has in this Test series done neither of the two.