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During the second Test between India and England at Lord’s, Virat Kohli shouldered arms to one outside the off-stump and it clattered into his stumps. But, on most occasions in the ongoing tour, he has been dismissed poking at deliveries outside the off-stump. He does need to master the art of leaving deliveries with conviction, but perhaps that dismissal off Liam Plunkett may be creating doubts in his mind, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
To err is human; we are fallible creatures after all. But, if one continues to commit the same mistakes, it is unforgivable. Virat Kohli is a champion player and he would be kicking himself for repeatedly poking at deliveries outside the off-stump. Having arrived in England with the reputation of being a conqueror, Kohli has failed to live up to that tag and has consistently fallen to England’s ploy of targeting his weakness. It is now seven innings that he has failed to leave a mark on this tour.
As discussed in a previous article, Kohli is one man who usually learns from his mistakes and makes amends. In the past, there have been times when he has been targeted by the opposition, yet he has managed to bounce back soon. Against England, during the home series in 2012, he struggled in the first three Tests and committed near-identical errors before sorting it out ahead of the last game. In one-day cricket too, he has learnt as he has moved along the way. Then, what is stopping him now?
Perhaps Kohli has run into that phase where doubts have crept in his mind. It is but natural that no player dominates throughout his career and there are times when even the best go through a rough patch, where they have no clue about their next run. There is that phase that tests every bit of your ability. Kohli has looked good in patches — at Southampton he seemed to be in a flow and was also decent in the first innings at Lord’s. But, those pokes outside the off-stump seem to be playing on his mind now.
In the first innings at Trent Bridge, Kohli played at one way outside the off-stump and edged it to slip. In the first innings at Lord’s he had to play at one around the off-stump and edged it to slip. Then came the embarrassment — in the second essay, he shouldered arms to one from Liam Plunkett and it clattered into the stumps. It looked ugly and perhaps that dismissal left a cue in his mind. And then, he poked at one at Southampton and then at Manchester.
Once you are on the pitch, your reflexes take over. As the ball is delivered, Kohli’s mind may be reminding him of the embarrassment at Lord’s. It then may urge him to use his bat to avoid that odd one that may come back and hit his stumps. At Manchester, he could have left that one outside the off-stump, but chose to play at it and had to return for a duck. Now, he has only three more hits to prove his mettle in England until next time.
If there is anything, it does show the need for Kohli to learn how to leave deliveries. A prolific scorer in one-day cricket, Kohli has done well in Tests but yet to score those big tons. He may be some distance away from moulding himself into a fantastic Test batsman. The moment he learns to leave deliveries, there would be a sea change.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)
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