WTC final: Is Virat Kohli battling worrying form in Tests? Numbers suggest so
June 18, 2021 will officially mark the beginning of Virat Kohli's third tour of England. He has been to England to play Test cricket twice before - in 2014 and 2018, where he had contrasting fortunes with the bat. After the low of 2014 where Kohli scored just 134 runs from 10 innings, he took the opposition by the scruff of the neck four years later, amassing 593 runs in a five-Test series.
However, this tour in particular holds a massive significance altogether for the India captain, as from Friday, his team will square off against New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship at Southampton's Ageas Bowl. All eyes would be on Kohli, who is seeking his first ICC title as captain. He would be keen to lead from the front, but having said that, in order to do so, the India skipper would have to bury the worrying form he's endured in the last two and a half years in Test cricket.
Between 2016 and 2018, Kohli was in red-hot form, peeling off centuries and piling runs across the world. In these three years, Kohli had scored a staggering 3596 runs from 25 Tests with an average of 75.33 in 2016, 75.64 in 2017 and 55.08 in 2018. However, if the period between 2019 and now is to be carefully examined, the numbers haven't been that great for the India captain.
In 14 Tests since the start of 2019, Kohli has managed to score less than 1000 runs. He scored 612 runs in 2019, 116 in 2020 and 172 in 2021 so far, which takes his tally to 900 runs. While his average in 2019 still read an impressive 68, it dipped to 19.33 in 2020 and is currently at 28.66. Also, November 2019 was the last time Kohli scored an international century. For someone who has an impressive conversion rate of almost 52, not seeing Kohli notch up the three-digit score in over a year and a half is slightly unreal.
Now, let's move to Kohli's numbers in away matches, which highlights another glaring concern. Barring his innings of 74 in the Day-Night Test against Australia last December, Kohli has not scored more than 20 runs in any of the remaining five innings in away Tests since the start of 2020. In fact, since 2020, Kohli's average has slipped to 19.33 in Tests overseas which is the lowest among 63 batsmen to have faced 250 balls or more.
Surprisingly, Kohli has been out at the wicket for less than 50 balls in five innings out of six since 2020. Besides, his contribution proportion has been below 10 percent in away Tests for India since 2019. It is the sixth lowest among 48 batsmen who have faced more than 100 overs in away Tests since 2019. Furthermore, it does not help India's cause knowing that despite being the country's most successful captain in Tests, Kohli has lost six out of seven Tests as captain in England and New Zealand.
Come the final of the WTC on Friday, Kohli will also have to be on the lookout against his nemesis Tim Southee. The New Zealand pacer, who played the Under-19 World Cup back in 2008 along with Kohli, has dismissed the India captain the most in international cricket. Southee has got Kohli's number, having gotten his wicket 10 times – six times in ODIs, twice in T20Is and thrice in Tests.