'Kohli making run-scoring difficult': Manjrekar finds big flaw, fears India great falling behind Smith, Root, Williamson

Jun 09, 2023 04:55 PM IST

After Virat Kohli was dismissed for 14 in the WTC final, Manjrekar was asked whether the India great is falling behind the other members of the fab four.

There was a lot written and spoken about Virat Kohli's dismissal in the World Test Championship final against Australia. Generally, Kohli's dismissal is always a talking point, more so if the ball is good. The Oval pitch had already shown signs of being up and down in nature. The odd delivery was bouncing awkwardly from length even on Day 1 when India were bowling. Unfortunately, the ones from Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj that misbehaved did not find the outside edge or even if it did, it did not go to the fielder's hands. But that was not the case with Starc.

India's Virat Kohli walks back to the pavilion after losing his wicket for 14 runs during day 2 of the ICC World Test Championship cricket final match between Australia and India at The Oval.(AFP)
India's Virat Kohli walks back to the pavilion after losing his wicket for 14 runs during day 2 of the ICC World Test Championship cricket final match between Australia and India at The Oval.(AFP)

In the second ball of the 19th over, Starc bent his back and got one to kick on from the surface. Kohli was taken aback by the extra bounce and could not control it. It caught his thumb and flew towards the slip cordon where Steve Smith took a sharp catch by timing his jump to perfection.

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The did ball bounce more than expected but former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrejar believes, if Kohli had rocked back instead of lunging forward then he would have had a better chance of dealing with that rising delivery.

"You shouldn't be surprised when a short delivery bounces more. Virat Kohli has become a front foot player. He goes onto the front foot every ball. If you look at the pictures carefully and the pitch map also tells us that the Mitchell Starc delivery pitched on the halfway mark, that means it was a short delivery. He tried to move forward to a short delivery. Both of his feet were outside the crease. When you get into this kind of a position and the ball bounces a bit more, then you have no chance," Manjrekar said on ESPN Cricinfo.

Kohli has always been someone who has pressed forward. His initial movement is always on the front foot. In a video that had gone viral during IPL 2021, he was seen explaining to Venkatesh Iyer why he prefers to put his weight on the front foot. Kohli was heard explaining to the youngster that if you put your weight forward, you are in a good position to play all the shots. This technique of Kohli, however, has got him into trouble in Test cricket in the last few years. His forward press has made him push at short deliveries which could have easily punched from the back foot.

"Run-scoring for Kohli is getting a bit more and more difficult because he is trying to lunge forward irrespective of the ball's length. The Australian players that got runs in the first innings - Steve Smith and Travis Head - are both backfoot players. So Kohli somewhere down the line has to bring that into his game. Rahane has started doing that," Manjrekar added.

Manjrekar was asked whether Kohli has fallen behind the other members - Steve Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson - of the famous fab four in Test cricket.

"I don't know if it's a coincidence or there is fact in it but players like Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson who have scored a lot of runs in Test cricket in the last 2-3 years are all strong backfoot players. They go deep in their crease and then wait for the ball. But Kohli's technique is different. When he was in his prime, remember when he scored those four hundreds in Australia, he used to play the pull shot a lot. Since then he has had a lot of faith in his technique. He doesn't want to change it. But I think his road has become difficult because of that. Whatever runs he is scoring now is because of his mental toughness and experience

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