Virat Kohli © Getty Images
Virat Kohli has scored just 108 runs in the eight innings he’s played in the tournament © Getty Images

By Gaurav Joshi

Aug 13, 2014

Virat Kohli failed for the eighth consecutive time in the series in Manchester. His captain MS Dhoni came out and defended his technique stating that it is was difficult to alter an individual’s technique in a short period. From the evidence of the net session two days before the final Test match, it seemed that Kohli has gone back to the drawing board and is trying to make a few amends.

Kohli was the first person in the nets as he took a lot of throw-downs for over half an hour. There was alteration was that his back lift; the bat was coming down from between 1st and 2nd slip.  Throughout the Test series, his back lift has been from the 3rd slip region. He was also standing a lot more upright and focusing on playing down towards mid-off.

During his scintillating form at the ICC World T20, Kohli had resisted batting for a substantial period against net bowlers and instead had chosen to have only 25 balls thrown-down at him by the fielding coach, Trevor Penny. The reason behind the theory was that if Kohli felt he had made a mistake in the nets, it could start playing up on his mind.

On this tour, the shoe has been on the other foot. Once Kohli was satisfied with the throw downs, he took a brief breather before confronting the net bowlers bowling with a brand new ball. Kohli had also taken a guard right on leg stump. His toes were now on leg stump, while during his dismissals in the last Test, they were more towards middle stump.

Initially, the new technique seemed to be paying dividends, but as the session wore on Kohli started facing his struggles once again. In a sequence of ten consecutive deliveries, Kohli started to fall back into his old habits, the bat was raised straighter but after the initial touch down the pitch, the bat on the uplift had already to go wider and wider. Kohli was disgusted as he kept playing inside out. On more than few occasions he had skewed the ball.

As his captain had rightfully stated “you feel comfortable in the nets but in the game situation, where there is pressure on you, you miss a few balls and there is tendency to go back to your own game.” Kohli’s issue was that the step from the throw down nets to the bowlers net had affected him in the mind so trying to correct it in the match will be a huge task.

The difficulty in altering his method had clearly frustrated Kohli. The vice captain took out his anger on the adjacent nets on all the spinners, as he smashed them one after the other into the stands. All of a sudden, the positivity had returned and Kohli looked a class apart. Right through the series Kohli has been engaged in conversations with the likes of Michael Vaughan. The former England skipper had stated during his commentary stint on BBC that he even had dinner with Kohli.

Looking through the footage archives of Kohli’s innings in South Africa and New Zealand six months ago, it is evident that the stance, technique and the follow through of the bat are very similar to what he has in England. With the pressure mounting on him to score runs, it seems that it is Kohli’s mind that is scrambled more than his technique, and it is the mental side that needs to be sorted. With his next innings less than 72 hours away, Kohli needs to decide on whether he wants to give priority to the technical way or the mental way. Right now he is sitting on the fence.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph).