Updated: September 18, 2021 9:19:32 am
In his quest for batting liberation, Virat Kohli has renounced a part of his workload. Post the T20 World Cup in November, he would no longer lead his country in the shortest format. The decision, on the apparent, smacks of his dogged desire to become the batting colossus that he has been for a chunk of his glittering career. In the past couple of century-less years, his longest drought without a century, Kohli’s batting prowess had diminished, not immensely but incrementally. Now that he’s 33, on the brink of entering the final stretch of his career, he wants to be what he was and what he always wanted to be. The best batsman across formats, and he perhaps sees leadership duties as a hindrance to it.
But the puzzle, since he mentioned workload as the main contributor to his decision, remains whether quitting T20I captaincy would indeed reduce his burden. Had he quit the format altogether, shed white-ball captaincy, stepped down as captain of his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, it would have strengthened the argument that he wants to give all he has to Test cricket in the coming years. As it is now, it’s unlikely that his workload could be reduced considerably. For, after the World Cup, international T20 games would fizzle out of relevance, continue to be as inconsequential as it had been before, fixtures that are forgotten as soon as the match is over, until the next World Cup. Besides, it’s the least frequently played format in a tour.
Be what it may, if the decision would help him retrace the steps to his batting pinnacle, it could turn out to be a masterstroke. For, there could be as good leaders as Kohli, like Sharma, or K L Rahul in this format, or new leaders could be groomed, but there are few better batsmen than Kohli not just in his country but in the world. To launch the world conquest, India needed a liberated, unburdened Kohli, Kohli the batsman at his absolute peak.
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on September 18, 2021 under the title ‘Perfect stroke’.