Don't ask Kohli 'Hey listen, you've to come back for Zimbabwe series otherwise...': Former selector on India's 'blunder'

Updated on Jul 28, 2022 07:36 PM IST

Kohli has struggled for runs, having not scored a century for India in any format for almost three years. His future is now a matter of intense public debate, especially when the Indian team is gearing up for the World T20 in Australia.

India's Virat Kohli and coach Rahul Dravid during practice (Reuters)
India's Virat Kohli and coach Rahul Dravid during practice (Reuters)
By, New Delhi

An unforeseen lean patch has Virat Kohli facing a race against time to get back to his old self ahead of the World T20 in Australia. The star batter could muster only 11 and 20 in the fifth and final Test in Edgbaston and continued his bad performances in the Twenty20s, where he could gather just 12 runs in two innings. The slump continued in the One-Day Internationals too. Kohli's wretched run continued with 17 and 16 in the two 50-over games in England.

Kohli has struggled for runs of late, having not scored a century for India in any format for almost three years. With his future now a matter of intense public debate, the former skipper isn't a part of the ongoing West Indies assignment. The national selectors did not clarify whether he had finally been dropped or was merely being rested over injury concerns. But the out-of-form player still remains crucial for India's success in the T20 showpiece event in Australia, believes former India wicketkeeper and national selector Saba Karim.

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Karim doesn't want the team to impose more burden on Kohli by asking him to play the upcoming Zimbabwe series. The 33-year-old batter endured a torrid 12 months that also saw him replaced as India's captain. But he has got support from current skipper Rohit Sharma, who backed his predecessor to bounce back soon.

"First, I think the selectors and the team management have to figure out whether Virat Kohli is essential for India's preparation for India's T20 World Cup side or not. And once the selectors decide the team management feels that Virat Kohli is essential to the team’s success then I’d chart a path for Virat Kohli’s come back to great form," Karim told Sports18's daily sports news show ‘SPORTS OVER THE TOP.’

"I think that's the time when the selectors or the captain or Rahul Dravid would love to have a chat with him and then try and take it forward. I would not want to have any kind of imposition on Virat Kohli that ‘Hey listen, you have to come back and play this Zimbabwe series otherwise we’ll not pick you for the World Cup T20.’"

"So, I think once you decide that he is such an essential player for the team’s success, then I reach out to him. I’ll say okay, it is up to you to decide whether you want to come back and play the Zimbabwe ODI or you want to take an extended break and come back for the Asia Cup T20," he added.

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Karim feels discarding Kohli from the current set-up would be a 'blunder', given the fact that the batter has got over 20,000 runs at the highest level. He asked the team management and Rohit Sharma-Rahul Dravid duo to make Kohli feel that he is still "essential" to India's success despite a massive dip in form.

"I would say that'd be a blunder from India's perspective. Never do that. And I think Virat is such an important figure in the Indian line-up. The way I look at it, the way Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid have backed him, that makes sense because they know that Virat Kohli, fully back in good form, will be extremely beneficial for the team’s success in the World Cup T20," he said.

"So, I think for the time being, as I said earlier, have a chat with Kohli, find some kind of a common part and then try and take it forward and make him feel as much as possible that he's such an essential player for India's success and take a call after the world cup T20 have another conversation with him and then decide how to take it forward.

"Because Kohli in the past several years has taken breaks at the right time. Although he remains an all three formats player for India. But the Indian team management has taken the right steps in order to assess his workload management and has given him the breaks at the right time," Karim explained.

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