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Friday, December 03, 2021

Who in his right mind would send a player of Virat Kohli’s calibre at No. 4: Mudassar Nazar

Mudassar Nazar, the former Pakistan batsman, who has also served as director of the National Cricket Academy, believes Kohli's decision to give up RCB and T20 captaincy will have a 'positive impact'.

Written by Mudassar Nazar |
Updated: November 5, 2021 1:14:31 pm
India vs Namibia Match LIVE, India vs Namibia LIVE StreamingIndia's Virat Kohli against Afghanistan (Source: Reuters)

Those who play on the leg side and keep their chin very close to their body, you will see that their heads don’t fall over.

Virat is a stroke-maker and sometimes his head falls over, but if he tries to hit those deliveries towards or through mid-on, it won’t be a big deal. As soon as he plays square on the leg-side, it becomes a problem.

The bigger problem has been the ball going away from his body, which has been exploited by England’s James Anderson over the years. Then again, this is a problem every batsman has faced, even the great Sunil Gavaskar.

A bowler has to be of that ability to bowl that ball. Kapil Dev got so many wickets in Test cricket by bowling that ball. Richard Hadlee bowled that ball. Dennis Lillee bowled that ball. Malcolm Marshall bowled that ball. And if you were to get Sunil Gavaskar out, you had to bowl that ball very early in his innings. Otherwise you could forget about taking his wicket.

So it’s a common problem in all the batsmen, but the likes of Gavaskar made lesser mistakes. The similartity between Sunil and Virat lies in scoring so many runs for so many years. Which is why Virat is loved by so many people. Virat is more enterprising than Sunil and Sachin. All of a sudden, Virat is not scoring runs as consistently, which can happen to a player who has been playing for a long time.

We as human beings sometimes become lazy (mentally) and start making mistakes. That’s where the coach comes in, with a quiet word that this is what you aren’t doing right, so confront the problem straightaway. But we all are human beings and Virat has played his cricket under a lot of pressure. He captains India. He captained Royal Challengers Bangalore as well. And to perform day in and day out, there’s always a blip around the corner.

Who is to say he will not come out of it?

I can draw a Graham Gooch analogy, who in his mid-30s, upped his game to the extent of being one of the best, finishing with close to 9,000 runs in Test cricket. I see Virat coming back big-time. Maybe, giving up Bangalore and India’s T20 captaincy will have a positive impact now.

Whether a break would help him, Virat is the best judge. If he thinks he needs a breather to get back to form, it’s his call. If he thinks more time in the middle is required to come out of a lean patch, that’s also his decision. It’s entirely up to Virat.

Does he need a coach? Look, Graham Gooch had a coach. Tiger Woods needed a coach. If Virat says he can benefit from a coach, and he has trust in that coach, he will go along with that. But if he thinks, ‘no, I know what my problem is, and maybe a break will help and I will sort out my own problems’, who are we to contradict that?

People talk about Virat getting stuck against spin in T20s. If I see his last innings, he brought about his own undoing. Changing the batting order was uncalled for. It meant that Virat had to bat at No. 4. Who in his right mind would send a player of his calibre at No. 4!

He should be always batting at No.3 if not opening the innings. He came in (against New Zealand) at a time when India had started to struggle. He got bogged down because he was in two minds, whether to play his shots or to take the game deep. And under pressure, he slogged and got out. He was carrying the pressure of a captain as well and he, in fact, got himself out rather than being undone by the bowler.

He was undone by the team’s batting order mistake.

He can open, but I would say No.3 is his best position. KL Rahul is as enterprising a batsman as Rohit when he gets going. Virat coming in at No. 3 after these two is a fantastic combination. Pushing him down the order is asking for trouble.

There’s no point trying to nitpick and say that he is getting stuck against spin. It can happen against a particular bowler or a particular type of bowling for a certain phase during a long career. When it becomes a habit, then that’s a problem. I don’t see Virat fall into a (bad) habit.

(As told to Shamik Chakrabarty)

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