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.Updated: Jun 01, 2017 10:44 IST
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.
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.
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.
ICC Champions Trophy 2013
West Indies Tri-nation series
India in Zimbabwe
Australia in India
West Indies in India
India in South Africa
India in New Zealand
Asia cup (Bangladesh)
India in England
West Indies in India
Sri Lanka in India
Carlton Mid ODI Tri-series in Australia
ICC World Cup in Australia/
India in Bangladesh
South Africa in India
India in Australia
New Zealand in India
England in India
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.
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.
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.
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.
First Published: Jun 01, 2017 08:34 IST