COMMENT: Time for King Kohli to put critics in their place

Karan Dewan 08:14 23/03/2017
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Virat Kohli has been short of runs in the series.

In what is an enormously important Test series for both India and Australia, the drama has shifted from on-field to off-field theatrics at various junctures so far.

From Steven Smith’s ‘Brain Fade’ moment, Ian Healy’s remarks on the India captain, Shoulder Saga to the Australian media comparing Virat Kohli to Donald Trump, we have seen it all.

It started well before Pune, got heated up after Bengaluru and hasn’t stopped since Ranchi. You wonder where and when it will end.

Clicks, views, likes and shares are all that media houses are after, allegations and conspiracies are like low-hanging fruits for them. As a result, the salatious aspects and squeezing Kohli and Trump into an SEO-friendly headline are more interesting. Unfortunately, at times, not enough light is shed on the high-quality cricket that has been on offer.

Some gritty hundreds have been scored, some really outstanding spin bowling has produced wickets, the seamers have been excellent. One player has eclipsed his own team-mate to reach the top of the Test bowler rankings, the world’s No1 Test batsman has looked solid, a memorable double-hundred was scored at Ranchi. But all that’s discussed are accusations and conflict.

In the midst of the media trying to set the agenda and fan the flames of this hugely competitive rivalry, one man has been at the centre of it all; Kohli.

The numbers haven’t really done the job for him, this series. His celebrations and press conferences have grabbed more attention than his work in the middle. It sounds unusual for Kohli that his bat hasn’t done the talking for him, but unfortunately that has been the case in this series.

Sent packing for a duck by Mitchell Starc in the first innings at Pune, then by a ‘judgemental error’ against O’Keefe’s spin in the second innings, followed by two LBWs in the Bengaluru Test, and then falling prey to Pat Cummins at Ranchi; Kohli’s batting performances in the series have given his critics, mainly the Australian media, all the more reason to point fingers at him.

Kohli's judgemental error cost him his wicket in the first Test at Pune.

Kohli has scored just 46 runs in the series so far and has certainly not lived up to his name, in an important series.

This though, will certainly be on the back of his mind. And there’s one game still remaining, at Dharamsala. More importantly, the series is still up for grabs. It is exactly the kind of contest and winner-takes-all situation that Kohli thrives on as a competitor.

The Pujaras, the Jadejas and the Rahuls have done their job, now it’s up to King Kohli to take the responsibility and just remind everyone of what he really is. It’s time for King Kohli to stand up, put his critics in their place and deliver the knock-out punch.

You’d think he’d enjoy having the last laugh, too.

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