Unusual run: Kohli struggling in Indian Premier League
Three golden ducks, three single-digit scores and just one score above 50.
If Virat Kohli’s name wasn’t attached to that sequence of batting scores in the world’s richest cricket league, selectors may already have run out of patience.
But Kolhi has runs on the board in so many other ways.
He is India’s most accomplished batter, with more than 10,000 runs in limited-overs formats, and he carries loads of experience.
Kohli gave up the captaincy of Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of this Indian Premier League season while promising to serve the franchise as a player.
Most cricket pundits thought that removing the burden of leading Bangalore -- which has never won the title in the lucrative Twenty20 league -- would bring the best out of Kohli.
But it hasn’t clicked. His tally of runs stood at 216 from 12 games when he picked up his third golden duck on the weekend against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The slick cover drives for which Kohli is famous seem to be a stroke he has forgotten to execute with that utmost precision. Just 20 boundaries in 12 games is evidence of master batter’s struggles against the bowlers.
Kohli even tried his luck to regain form by opening for Bangalore after a barren run at No. 3. His first two golden ducks -- against Lucknow Super Giants and Sunrisers Hyderabad -- came at No. 3 while facing the pace bowlers.
He upped the ante, moving up to open the innings and posting his only half century of this tournament against Gujarat Titans. A 58-run knock off 53 balls at a strike-rate of 109.43 was not enough to save his team from a six-wicket defeat. He batted until the 17th over before Muhammed Shami dismissed him with a yorker.
After Kohli’s first first-ball duck in the tournament, former India head coach Ravi Shastri suggested the former national team skipper take a break from competitive cricket.
“I am going straight to the main guy here. Virat Kohli is overcooked. If anyone needs a break, it’s him,” Shastri told tournament broadcasters. “Whether it’s two months or a month and a half, whether it’s after (the) England (tour in July) or before England, he needs a break because he has got six-seven years of cricket left in him and you don’t want to lose that with a fried brain.”
Since then, Kohli has added two more more golden ducks.
Commentator and high-profile former England batter Kevin Pietersen said Kohli needs to say “I will see you later” to cricket and needs to switch off his attention from social media to re-energized himself.
“When the stadiums are full again, you guarantee him a spot in that side for the next 12, 24 or 36 months,” Pietersen said. “Tell him, ‘You’re our guy. We know you’ll deliver for us.’”
He acknowledged it would be hard for Kohli if he’s “completely fried.”
Kohli’s RCB franchise could still make it to the playoffs, hanging in among the top four with 14 points with two league games to go.
The 33-year-old Kohli has shown many times in his long career that he quickly turn things around. His millions of fans remain hopeful that the change will come soon for Bangalore.
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