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Why Virat Kohli in IPL 2024 a warning sign for Team India in T20 World Cup?

Why Virat Kohli in IPL 2024 a warning sign for Team India in T20 World Cup?

Despite repeated talks of slow batting, Virat Kohli has continued that approach in IPL 2024 and that's bad sign for India in T20 World Cup.

181 runs in 3 innings at an average of 90.50 and a strike rate 141.40 — an excellent record for a batter in T20s, right? Virat Kohli fans would think so. He is the leading run-getter of IPL 2024 to wear the Orange Cap proudly. Yet, some things don’t seem right. The Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter does have two half-centuries in two innings — but both are contrasting. What should worry selectors ahead of T20 World Cup 2024 squad selection is his “excellent” 83 off 59 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday. The reason? Let’s discuss.

The Good

Let’s accept it, Virat Kohli is drop-proof in the India Cricket Team. And he has backed his claims with mountains of runs in any format. That he scored 639 runs in IPL 2023 and is again back to his best in IPL 2024 is crucial to Team India ahead of T20 World Cup.

After a two-month break for the birth of his second child, Virat Kohli has found his rhythm and looks in good touch. In Bengaluru on Friday, Kohli played 59 balls and he had 27 singles and 8 couples. Not many, at 35, can run as good as Kohli. Great!

The Bad

But there is a bad side to the story. Royal Challengers Bengaluru lost to KKR with RCB only managing 182/6 in 20 overs. KKR only needed 16.5 overs to reach the target.

Since the T20 World Cup 2022 disaster, Rohit Sharma declared that every batter would need to change their way. There is no role for an anchor in T20s and the approach must change. Come, hit, get out — would be the way every T20 World Champions have done so far.

Latest on Virat Kohli

Yet Virat Kohli remains immune to the idea. His knock of an emperor against Pakistan at the MCG was hailed as one of the best in history. Yes, Kohli did rescue India and won the match. However, it was Kohli who put India in that situation with his “let’s anchor first” approach.

He is a master in dragging the innings and winning it for India. There is no doubt about that. But if he gets out, the rest of the players won’t have enough time to recover from a situation that Kohli forces.

In that emperor’s knock, Kohli’s first boundary came in the 13th over. India went without scoring a boundary for 5 overs. In the ODI World Cup final, India only had two boundaries in 29 overs. Virat Kohli was on the crease on both occasions.

Virat Kohli

The Ugly

Take Virat Kohli’s 83 of 59 against KKR for an example. He consumed half of the stipulated overs, leaving other RCB batters with only 61 deliveries. Cameron Green used 21 of them to score 33 while Glenn Maxwell scored 28 off 19.

Green was guilty of way too many dot balls as he failed to score runs on 10 off the 21 deliveries he faced. But Maxwell only had 4 dot balls. Virat Kohli in his 59-ball knock had 15 — not so bad. But it’s 27 singles that should haunt the team. Had it not been for Dinesh Karthik’s 8-ball 20, RCB would have to settle for a lower score. Not good!

One might argue that the pitch on Friday was slower at the M Chinnaswamy stadium when RCB were batting. It surely did not feel that way when KKR batted. KKR surpassed Kohli’s knock in just 6 overs (powerplay), posting 85/0. And the rest was easy. KKR had only 25 dot balls in their innings compared to RCB’s 41.

In the T20 World Cup 2024, Team India will get drop-in pitches in the USA. Drop-in pitches are notorious for being two-paced and slower or as flat as a highway. In the West Indies, should India qualify for knockouts, Rohit Sharma & Co will be greeted by slower, dry pitches. And that will be a disaster for India.

The World Cup 2023 final has proven that India are bad on slower pitches. That India had no boundaries for 29 overs should be a big warning sign. On Friday, RCB hit three sixes and a four between the 7th and 12th over. Virat Kohli only hit 2 sixes during that phase. And that hurt RCB’s total. They failed to take the score to 220 or so as that seemed to be a competitive target.

To put it bluntly, if Virat Kohli continues to go at this pace at No 3 for India, the ICC trophy drought will certainly continue.

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