In Virat Kohli’s 11 incredible years in international cricket, his individual achievements will arguably place him as one of the modern greats of the game.
Over 23,000 international runs, 70 international centuries, India’s third-highest run-scorer ever to date, the highest ever run-scorer in a single Indian Premier League (IPL) season - records can be written all day about him.
However, Kohli has been a shadow of himself in the last few years purely because of the relative fall in his staggering run-scoring rate in comparison to the astonishing standards he has set for himself.
Ever since his last international century in 2019, the long-awaited 71st century has eluded him for so long, his Test career average fell below 50 for the first time since 2017 and to rub salt into the wound, Kohli had a forgettable run with the bat in this season of the IPL too.
He scored 341 runs at an average of 22.73, striking at 116 throughout the season. His comments in an online interview after his golden duck in an IPL game against Sunrisers Hyderabad reflect upon how doubts can seem to creep up inside the greats too -
“First-ball ducks. After the second one, I actually realised what it feels like to be absolutely helpless. It hasn’t happened to me ever in my career, I think. I have seen everything now. It’s been so long, I have seen everything in this game,” said Kohli in the interview.
Just like all elite sportspersons, Virat Kohli too is expected to overcome adversity, break the shackles and regain himself, but the question remains, will the cricket world be able to witness the same old Kohli who conquered every daunting situation by scoring a mountain of runs.
The scarcity of big scores has crossed Kohli’s path in the past as well. On India’s tour to England in 2014, Virat Kohli went through one of the roughest patches of his career.
In the 10 innings he batted in that Test series, his highest score was 39 and was dismissed by James Anderson and Stuart Broad 6 times. Tons of questions were then raised regarding his technique, temperament and his struggles against the swinging ball in English conditions.
India’s next tour to England in 2018 was portrayed as a series of Kohli against Anderson with the air being thick with gossip of a Kohli comeback or him faltering yet again.
A matured Kohli showed his class with a revamped batting technique and silenced his critics. In the 10 equal innings this time around, he scored 2 centuries and 3 fifties at an average of 59.3.
Kohli now finds himself in a similar situation, maybe a notch tougher where he has to prove himself once more that he is not finished and hundreds/big scores are a matter of time.
In the recent past, although he has not been able to find his previous mammoth run-scoring streaks, he has not failed to play some vital innings for India.
His innings of 74 against Australia in Adelaide in 2020 was a classy one; his 72 in the first Test against England at Chennai was a fighting knock; a gutsy 57 against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup as he fought alone, was another example.
Just like the great Sachin Tendulkar, who did not succumb under the pressure of reaching his 100th century as the long wait of over a year to eventually get there finally came to an end, Kohli would very much like to look up to his idol once more.
Fitness-wise too, there has never been a compromise. His aggressiveness in the field as a cricketer has not received the slightest of dents.
As the great saying goes “history repeats itself,” the whole cricket world would love to watch history to repeat itself in Kohli defying all odds.
In the fullness of time, it might just be one stroke of luck, one big score or one moment of magic that can turn back time for the former Indian skipper, his fans and for India.