Virat Kohli’s form the big question for India ahead of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 | icc-champions-trophy-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Virat Kohli’s form the big question for India ahead of ICC Champions Trophy 2017

Virat Kohli has struggled for form in the last couple of months, but India will be banking on their skipper when they start their ICC Champions Trophy campaign against Pakistan.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 01, 2017 10:44 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates his half century during the ICC Champions Trophy warm-up match against New Zealand.
India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates his half century during the ICC Champions Trophy warm-up match against New Zealand.(AFP)

If there is a bigger question heading into the ICC Champions Trophy than who will win a tight competition, it is which Virat Kohli will turn up when defending champions India kick off their campaign against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Sunday.

READ | Why Pakistan have received a setback before India clash in ICC Champions Trophy

Run machine, entertainer, in-your-face aggressor, the India skipper is all these and much more. The natural successor to Sachin Tendulkar has also proved a master at chases, a quality his team will hope gives them the edge in a short tournament where any slip will be punished.

Conventional is fine

Virat Kohli is a fan’s delight and a perfect fit for marketing, the lot of the present-day sports professional. But he sticks to a conventional-can-do-it approach, much like England’s Joe Root and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.

READ | ICC Champions Trophy: Michael Clarke prefers Yuvraj Singh over Ajinkya Rahane

Virat Kohli’s hand-eye coordination, and technique and power that sends wristy shots through cover and midwicket for boundaries do just fine to dominate One-dayers and T20 cricket, leaving lap shots, reverse hits and 360 degrees play to AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell.

Virat overall performance in one dayers
After a lacklustre showing at the previous Champions Trophy in England, in 2013, Virat Kohli has grown from strength to strength. He returns for another edition hoping to set record straight.
01
ICC Champions Trophy 2013
Managed to score just one half-century in five matches as India won the title.
02
West Indies Tri-nation series
Led in three games in MSD’s absence, winning two of them. Scored a ton too.
03
India in Zimbabwe
First series as full-time captain, Virat returned with a sweep.
04
Australia in India
In a series that went to the wire and remembered for Rohit’s double, he scored at an average of 100+
05
West Indies in India
Fell short of a century twice in three games.
06
India in South Africa
India batted twice, with low returns. Virat could only get scores of 31 and 0.
07
India in New Zealand
Notwithstanding India’s 4-0 thrashing at the hand of Kiwis, Virat was the lone ranger, scoring consistently
08
Asia cup (Bangladesh)
After guiding India to a win over Bangladesh with a century, Virat’s form faded. He made 40-odd in against Sri Lanka and just five against Pakistan.
09
India in England
The India No. 3 couldn’t score even a half-century. His highest was a mere 40 as he aggregated just 54 in the four matches (one was abandoned) at an average of 18.
10
West Indies in India
Virat Kohli shone with a century (127) at Dharamsala and a 62 at his home ground, Ferozeshah Kotla. The series was marred by the pullout of West Indies players and the last two games weren’t played.
11
Sri Lanka in India
The hastily arranged fixture is best remembered for Rohit Sharma’s world record score of 264. Virat Kohli got fifties in the third and fourth ODIs and came into his own in the last ODI, hitting 139.
12
Carlton Mid ODI Tri-series in Australia
After a superb Test series, where he hammered four tons, Virat hit a low in ODIs as India couldn’t make the final
13
ICC World Cup in Australia/
New Zealand
Didn’t really set the house on fire but century (107 runs) in the first match against rivals Pakistan set the tone as India won every game till semifinals.
14
India in Bangladesh
Had a poor outing, scoring at just 16.33 as India lost their first ODI series to Bangladesh.
15
South Africa in India
His century in the fourth ODI kept India alive in the series. He had scored 77 in the previous match. In the deciding game, however, he failed after South Africa scored a massive 438 in 50 overs.
16
India in Australia
Alongwith Rohit Sharma, he took the Aussie bowlers apart. But the bowlers let India down.
17
New Zealand in India
Highlight of the series was a 151-run partnership with MS Dhoni at Mohali. Kohli made 154.
18
England in India
Virat first series as regular ODI captain ended with a 2-1 win. Virat made a ton and a fifty.

Form dip, injury

However, the 2017 Champions Trophy will be a big test of Virat Kohli’s form and temperament. The 28-year-old was very much the run-machine in every format in the busy season until initial failures in the series against Australia was followed by shoulder injury during the third Test in Ranchi. On returning to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kohli failed to find the form that took his team to the IPL 2016 final.

Virat Kohli has scored just two half centuries for India in ICC Champions Trophy. (REUTERS)

RCB slipped to finish last in the table and he acknowledged the leadership anxiety it led to. The back-to-back 50s --- for RCB and in the warm-up win over New Zealand – would give comfort ahead of the big match against Pakistan.

The man with 27 ODI centuries has only two half-centuries to show in eight Champions Trophy matches. Still, in the 2013 campaign in the UK, Kohli made useful contributions in each of the five games, scoring 58 not out against Sri Lanka in the semifinal and 43 against England in the final.

India will be eager Kohli finds a new gear with Rohit Sharma making his India comeback following injury and Ajinkya Rahane looking out-of-sorts.

Kohli’s highs

Some of the Indian skipper’s finest knocks have come chasing a target. Of his 27 hundreds, 15 have come while batting second with an equal number of half-centuries underlining a great conversion rate. The team will hope Kohli again starts a major tournament with a bang.

READ | Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble ‘rift’: Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly to mediate?

In the 2011 World Cup, a young Kohli hit an unbeaten 100 in the opener against Bangladesh. And he set the tone for India’s run to the semifinal of the 2015 World Cup with a match-winning 107 against Pakistan first up.

Kohli’s highest total of 183 also came against Pakistan, to help India achieve a sensational victory chasing down 330 in 47.5 overs in the 2012 Asia Cup in Bangladesh.

But Kohli will be looking for much more than countering swing and seaming conditions. In the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, his batting tapered off in the end. In the 2015 World Cup, he made 3 in the quarterfinal win over Bangladesh and one run in the semifinal loss to Australia. The Champions Trophy thus will be a great opportunity to show all is swell with the Virat Kohli batting enterprise.