The Financial Express

What’s wrong with Virat Kohli’s test performance?

| Updated: September 10, 2021 10:19:08

What’s wrong with Virat Kohli’s test performance?

Virat Kohli has long been the finest ODI batsman among the 'Big Four,' but his test credentials were questioned. He converted only 5 of his first 14 fifties into centuries in test cricket at the start of his career.

However, he converted 19 of his next 29 fifties into centuries, with an astounding conversion rate of 65.52 per cent for the time and 55.81 per cent for his whole career (till 2018).

In terms of conversion rate (in Tests), Kohli was well ahead of his contemporaries back in 2018. Only Steven Smith, among the active players who had scored 3000 runs, competed with Kohli in this regard.

And then in 2018 and 2019 Kohli became the ICC Test Cricketer Of The Year in consecutive seasons. However, on an ominous note, after the second test match against Bangladesh in 2019, Kohli has failed to score a century in international cricket for more than 50 innings. His knock of 136 in the first innings of that match has become almost two years old now.

Kohli has had an average of 26.8 with the bat in Test cricket since 2020. In the 21 innings he batted, he only managed to hit 5 fifties. He has also scored 3 ducks in this period, which, by his standard, is below par.

In 2018, one of Kohli’s competitors, Joe Root was struggling to convert the fifties into hundreds. His conversion rate in tests was merely 25.45 per cent, for which he was subjected to wide criticism.

If Root’s test stats are compared to Kohli (from 2020), the former will certainly dominate. In the last two years, Root averages around 53.8 in test cricket, with 6 centuries and 0 ducks. 2021 has been a fantabulous year for the English batsman as he managed to convert 6 of his 7 fifties into hundreds. He has already struck three centuries in the ongoing series against India, whilst Kohli, although reaching half-century twice, has failed to turn them into big knocks.

2018’s English test summer reflected Kohli’s prime time. Kohli scored 593 runs in 10 innings at an average of 59.30. However, this time he is forced to see the other side of the coin. In the 7 innings of the ongoing test series, he managed to score only 218 runs at an average of just 31.

The corridor outside the off stump has been an area of concern for Kohli, as very frequently, when the ball pitches on that zone, he goes on to knick it towards the slips/wicketkeeper. Virat's biggest strength over the years, the cover drive, has now transformed into his biggest concern, as he becomes vulnerable and loses his wicket anytime he attempts to play it.

He had to deal with this susceptibility outside the off-stump back in 2014, and after recovering from it in recent years, he is again battling in the same channel.

Virat’s 13 year long career has been nothing less than a fairytale. From a highly talented young cricketer to a conqueror, he has earned the title ‘King’ for himself. Regardless, given his present form, can it be said that he has passed his prime and that the wait for his 71st century in international cricket will be longer?

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