IT’S GOT to be Virat Kohli 2.0. Otherwise, how on earth do you expect Kohli to get back to red-hot form again! That is one of the reasons why former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar suggested that Kohli should dial Sachin Tendulkar’s number and ask for help.
It is significant in many ways. Why? Gavaskar is not in favour of offering free advice unless asked by a cricketer and Kohli doesn’t have great respect for Gavaskar’s ability for shorter formats of the game. The current Indian captain can only relate to Tendulkar.
Remember, how the Mumbai maestro helped Kohli to come out of a purple patch after the disastrous 2014 England tour, wherein, he made scores of 1,8, 25,0, 39, 28, 0,7,6, and 20 in five Tests, for an average of 13.50 in 10 innings. Four years later, Kohli did conquer England and scored 593 runs in five matches at an average of 59.30 and so he won but, unfortunately, India lost.
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Life has come full circle and Kohli is again stuck in England with a mixed bag. Hundreds aren’t coming that smoothly. Fortunately, he isn’t in a space where he was insecure, fearful etc. Still, the old and fluent Kohli’s is missing somewhere. He isn’t able to stamp his authority as he did in 2018. Has he lost his mojo?
Gavaskar also meant that the Indian captain needs to take a few pages out of Tendulkar’s book. Of course, Kohl’s isn’t ready to give up captaincy that easily like Tendulkar did on his own. But he can surely re-orient his technique, temperament, and overall approach towards the game.
For that matter, when Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was asked as to who has a better technique between Tendulkar and Kolhi, he opted for the former because he was a lot more still on the crease.
Whereas, Kohli moves a lot more than required before the ball is delivered — thanks to his expansive trigger movement.
Dial back to 2004-05 when Tendulkar suffered a tennis elbow injury and he was asked to use lighter bats. Before that, Tendulkar was aggressive, sublime, and was like a one-man army.
Post his career-threatening injury, he started to re-orient himself by shedding off his aggressive approach at the crease by showing a lot more maturity. It took time to bring in those temperamental changes.
By the time the 2007 World Cup was over, the chorus to phase out Tendulkar got louder. But the Little Master kept faith in his ability, re-oriented and re-packaged himself to play for another six years or so.
Many in the BCCI felt that Tendulkar should have retired after the 2011 World Cup but he stayed on to make his historic 100th century in international cricket. In the process, he lost quite a bit of his reputation and it was to such an extent that he was asked if he intended to play beyond 200 Test matches. Then it would have to be on his form and fitness alone.
Kohli, fortunately, isn’t facing such an existential crisis right now. A great player that he is, he can swing back to form at any given point in time.
But to sustain from here, he needs to shed his aggressive approach of thinking that he is Viv Richards. Kohli needs to realize that he isn’t getting younger and he needs to be a lot calmer at the crease and stop thinking that he knows everything about modern cricket.
He can’t be the Kohli of old. Like we all grow old, it is followed by some slowness and calmness, Kohli needs to adopt that approach. He also needs to show respect to the opponent bowler and practice what he preaches like leaving the ego out of the cricket field.
The main deal is to score runs like Kohli did earlier and with a different sort of mindset. It is only then he can stay for some time more as a captain and player!