Shifting gears with Virat Kohli

    Shifting gears with Virat Kohli by Shivani Tanna

    Image Courtesy: Press Trust of India

    The standards Virat Kohli has set for himself over the years are so high that his bad days are
    often better than the best days of many of his peers. That has also led to him facing excessive
    amounts of scrutiny, with most recently people claiming that he doesn’t deserve a place in
    India’s T20 World Cup squad. Shivani Tanna argues why Kohli is the “clutch” India needs.

    In a recent episode of the Around The Wicket podcast, Glenn Maxwell, the Australian all-
    rounder and Virat Kohli’s teammate in Royal Challengers Bengaluru, hailed Kohli as “the most
    clutch player he has seen” in reference to the former Indian captain’s spot in the the upcoming
    T20 World Cup set to be held in the West Indies and USA.

    While the interview highlighted the fear Kohli instills in opposition teams with his phenomenal
    match-winning abilities, some critics question his place in the T20 World Cup squad citing his
    strike rate as too low for modern-day T20 cricket. Some even argue that he may not be the
    “accelerator” that the Indian team needs to get them over the line regardless of Maxwell’s belief
    that he’s the most “clutch” and his own belief that he has “still got it”.

    They are of the opinion that he should have made way for younger, more dynamic players for
    India to have a better chance at winning the T20 World Cup. However, they base their analysis
    on a purely technical, statistical point of view completely disregarding the non tangible factors
    that contribute to a team’s shot at winning an ICC trophy. Not only is Kohli a psychological
    threat to the opposition but he is also a responsible, momentum-maintaining batter India can
    rely on to see games through. The best example of that would be his magnificent knock against
    Pakistan in the 2022 T20 World Cup, popularly known as his “comeback”, wherein he scored 82
    runs off 53 balls at a strike rate of 154.71 under pressure. Maybe other batters in his position
    could have won India that game too, or maybe not. But none except him would have been
    expected to. That’s what Kohli brings to the table.

    The common opinion that he currently lacks aggression fails to address the underlying concern
    which is whether he can afford to take the high risk route in the given circumstance without
    thinking of the consequences. RCB has a middle-order that has rarely fired this season, forcing
    Kohli to carry the innings through on most occasions. His match awareness, which has always
    been his hallmark, is at its peak and he is still a master at single-handedly taking away games
    from the opposition when push comes to shove.

    Yes, maybe his recent knocks have a lower strike rate than what is considered ideal, maybe
    numbers don’t lie and maybe statistics support his potential exclusion from the squad. But the
    game is bigger than raw numbers and excel sheets. Kohli may not be the traditional
    “accelerator” that people want him to be, but he is the clutch that India needs him to be, for
    without the clutch, how will you shift the gears?

    Courtesy: Shivani Tanna 

    (A lawyer who tells great stories, Shivani Tanna is a connoisseur of supporting teams that are hard to support, ranging from RCB to Manchester United. While cricket is her first love, she also follows Indian football and tennis, and is looking to add more sports to her repertoire.)

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