After their Edgbaston defeat to England, Indian cricket fans witnessed something that they must have forgotten about.
The ICC ranking updates came in, and Virat Kohli was not found in the top 10 for the first time after 2016.
It was coming. His last century came in November 2019 against Bangladesh, and since then, he has played 75 innings across all three formats and is yet to reach triple figures again.
There is a running joke in the Bangladesh cricketing community that since Ebadot Hossain dismissed Kohli and gave him the salute, the only way for the former Indian skipper has been downhill.
While that is certainly not true, Kohli’s form in the last couple of years suggests nothing else. A look into his stats in this period only brings out the ugly pictures of his dreadful run.
Since that Test, Kohli has played 32 innings, where he has amassed only 872 runs at an average of 27.25, including only six fifties.
In ODIs, the numbers are a bit better. He has 791 runs in 21 innings averaging 37.66, including 10 fifties. In T20Is, he has shown his regular self with an average of 56.40, scoring 846 runs in 22 innings with a strike rate of 145.11 and eight fifties.
Even in the Indian Premier League, Kohli only has eight fifties across the last three seasons. For comparison, he had 22 50+ scores in the four seasons before that.
There have been a lot of talks about Kohli’s technique being exposed and whether he has been in the right mental state to continue playing at the highest level, so digging deeper into that is just churning out more of the same stuff.
Rather, the question should be if Kohli has now become a liability for team India, especially in Tests.
India have always been a team rich in batting talent. They always have world-class batsmen waiting for a national team call-up, and the scene is not different now.
India have been playing musical chair with the likes of Shubhman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, and KL Rahul in Tests for some time now. If Rahul opens, Gill doesn’t have a place, and if Gill does, Iyer can’t get in.
But Kohli keeps on playing and keeps on failing at number four, the position considered to be the most important in the longest format.
The difference was the most evident in Edgbaston as Joe Root guided his team to a historic run chase with a brilliant unbeaten 142, but Kohli could not contribute in any way in either innings.
It’s the same in ODIs. Batters like Suryakumar Yadav or Deepak Hooda are finding it difficult to get an opportunity because Kohli is there.
Yes, there is that definitive argument that when Kohli finds his mojo back, he will be the best in the business again. But how long can India wait?
A T20 World Cup is around the corner, and the ODI World Cup at home is less than a year away. Can India find success without Kohli firing?
Maybe all Kohli needs is proper rest, some time away from the game. Or maybe the beautiful poem that the former Indian captain was, has seen its final verse written. Maybe the final chapter in that novel has ended, or maybe there’s a twist coming.
While there are many possibilities open, for now, Kohli seems like a liability. And if he doesn’t return to form soon enough, it might be best for all parties to drop him.