‘Is Virat doing what he used to 2 years ago? If not…’: Australia great makes keen observation about Kohli’s ‘routine’
Virat Kohli's poor form may be down to his mindset and if his pre-match routine, according to the former Australia spinner.
Virat Kohli's struggle form has been a subject of analysis, and even puzzlement, for a better part of the last two years. The former India captain has not scored an international century for nearly three years now and moreover, his form has seen an alarming dip across formats this year just as India are gearing up for the 2022 T20 World Cup.
Kohli had incredibly managed to score 70 international centuries within a space of 10 years between December 2009, which is when he first scored a ton, and November 2019. His record has been frozen at 27 centuries in Tests and 43 in ODIs and he continues to average above 50 in ODIs and T20Is despite the drop in his scores since November 2019. Kohli's Test average only recently dipped below 50 and currently stands at 49.53.
While there have been some experts who pointed out that Kohli's tendency to be play on the front foot may be his undoing, former Australia spinner Brad Hogg is of the opinion that the 33-year-old's poor form might be down to his pre-match routines and his mindset.
"There are times where I have really tried to study his technique, slow the videos down. But I think it just comes down to the mind, the enjoyment of the game and the pressure that's on him. It's just about the routine going into the game, is he doing the same things he was a couple of years ago? If he isn't, then that's probably where he has to find his strength. It's not so much about what happens on the field," Hogg said on the sidelines of a Tourism Western Australia event in Mumbai.
"When you have got the talent, you know what to do and it is all about the attitude and the mindset when you go out there on the day. So I think it is more just the preparation before the game and not so much out in the middle. We know he has got skills and he can take on any bowler in the world. Is he getting the right resources and time management to make sure he is mentally relaxed before the game," said Hogg.
Kohli has managed to reach 20 just once in five innings thus far in India's ongoing tour of England. He looked good for his 16 off 25 balls on Thursday at Lord's before falling while fishing for a wide delivery, a mode of dismissal that has been all too frequent for Kohli throughout his career but more so this year.
Hogg said that a lot has changed for Kohli in these last three years. On a personal front, he became a father in January 2021. With the Indian team, Kohli has stepped down as captain in all formats and in his Indian Premier League (IPL) team Royal Challengers Bangalore. His exit from T20I captaincy last year was followed by an extended drama around how the BCCI handled the decision, all of which ended with him being sacked as ODI captain. He then stepped down as Test captain earlier this year after India's 2-1 series defeat in South Africa.
"I would like to see Virat Kohli go over there and perform well," said Hogg on whether Kohli can still be selected in the Indian team on the back of his current form for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
"He has been under pressure over the last couple of years with the restrictions that the players have had and having to lead all three formats. There was some pressure from the hierarchy as well with him captaining and that would have been playing on his mind. He has just had new additions to his family so, there is a lot of additions to Virat's world. I just want him to be back at his best because when that happens, he is great to watch. We want to make sure that these players finish their careers on a high. He has done so much great stuff for international and Indian cricket," said the former spinner.
"I want to be fair to Virat. As captain he was very, very aggressive on the field and I like that. But off the field he was such a humble leader. I have had plenty of interactions with him and he was a great ambassador for Indian cricket as a captain. A lot of people don't see those things."
Hogg said that it may be a good option for India to continue playing Kohli in the top order, either as an opener or at his usual No.3 position. "On a selection front, I have my own opinions. You pick your best T20 teams. The game's getting more aggressive, batters are scoring at higher rates, taking on the bowling. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions but you still need batters to bat through the innings. I've said (Rishabh) Pant should be opening the batting with Rohit (Sharma) at the WACA. I've seen someone say that when the field's spread, he struggles a bit and that's why it might be a good idea to get him to open the batting. But in saying that, I think it's best that Virat Kohli stays top of the order as well when the ball's coming on, the field's up and he has got that time to pierce the field and get his run rate up. There are a few decisions for India to make," said Hogg.