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Monday, January 25, 2021

India sans Virat Kohli: Numbers suggest a huge void to fill

Virat Kohli returns to India after the 1st Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Written by Rahul Sadhu | Updated: December 24, 2020 8:10:54 am
India's Virat Kohli on the second day of the Test match at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide. (AP)

The Indian cricket team sans their captain Virat Kohli will take on Australia in the next three Tests which will be played in Melbourne (Dec 26-30) and Sydney (Jan 3-7, 2021), and Perth (Jan 15-19, 2021). Kohli, who has taken a paternity leave after the Pink Ball Test to be with his wife Anushka Sharma, is expecting his first child in January.

With Kohli going back after the horror show in Adelaide, his absence will create a big hole in the Indian batting order. But to understand how big a void this will be we need to delve a bit deeper and look at what numbers tell us.

So far Kohli has performed brilliantly in Australia in the longest format of the game and has slammed six centuries Down Under in Tests with the highest score of 169 (Melbourne, 2014) besides two half-centuries.

The 32-year-old batsman has played 12 Tests in Australia so far starting from 2011-12 and has accumulated 1352 runs at an average of 54.08, which is a shade higher than his overall career average (53.41).

His memorable innings of 116 in Adelaide (also his first Test century) in the 2011-12 series which India lost 0-4 is widely regarded as the one which elevated his game and transformed him from a boy into a man.

The Indian captain’s batting record is unmatched by any other player in the current line up and his contribution to the team’s success is a head and shoulders above others. Among the 1256 runs scored by Indian batsmen in the last two series in Australia, Kohli has accounted for 293 runs (21 per cent), followed by Pujara (15 per cent) and others. The graph below illustrates the numbers behind this statement:

Virat Kohli is above others in terms of contribution among all batsmen. (Special arrangement.)

Now if we take a look at the strike rate and average runs scored by the Indian batsmen in the last two series on Australian soil, Kohli is among the top performers with only Rishabh Pant having a higher strike rate and Mayank Agarwal barely having a higher average ( but with 12 innings less than Kohli).

Virat Kohli’s average of 64.93 is only bettered by Mayank Agarawal with 65 while his strike rate is also among the top three.

Taking a deeper dive, if we look at the Border-Gavaskar series of  2014-15, where India suffered a loss,  Kohli’s contribution once again stands out. Interestingly, in 2018-19, where Indian won the series, Kohli’s contribution was comparatively lower in terms of runs but one cannot ignore that he is the leader of the pack and his impact is more than just runs on the board.

Kohli also has the greatest Test match-winning percentage as an Indian captain, with a most recent triumph being a 2-1 series victory against Australia last year which was also the first-ever Indian series win on Australian soil.

The discussion over Kohli’s absence from three of the four Tests against Australia will probably continue till India’s tour Down Under concludes. But there’s no doubt that his absence will impact the Indian team and a resurgence looks tough indeed especially after the demoralising defeat in the first game of the series.

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