In numbers: Virat Kohli remains the best Indian batter overall, but the wait for big scores continues

NEW DELHI: He hasn’t scored a hundred in more than two years, his overall scoring form has dropped, and despite all his efforts he continues to struggle to get big scores. Despite all these, modern day batting great, Virat Kohli remained the best batter for India even in the last couple of years.
The description – ‘the only batter with 50-plus average in all three formats’ – doesn’t hold true anymore for the former India captain, as Kohli’s Test average has gone down below 50 after a long time (49.95 to be precise).
Despite the dip, experts and fans admit that he hasn’t really lost form, is hitting the ball well and timing his shots perfectly, but somehow the big scores continue to elude a batter who at one time was the most prolific batter in international cricket.
What is interesting though is the fact that since his last hundred (across international cricket and the IPL on November 23, 2019), Kohli is still the highest run-getter for India in international cricket with 2478 overall runs at an average of 37.54 in 73 international innings. Overall he is fourth on the list of highest run getters during that period, which is led by Pakistan’s Babar Azam (3694 runs @55.96 in 74 innings with 10 hundreds).
Top 5 international run-getters since Kohli’s last hundred on November 23, 2019:
PlayerMatchInningsRunsHSAve.100s50sBabar Azam6874369419655.961027Joe Root3962308622854.14910Mohd Rizwan72722641115*47.16320Virat Kohli6373247894*37.54024Rohit Sharma4960236716141.52414
Kohli’s last century (70th international ton) across both international and IPL cricket was scored in November 2019, that’s almost two and half years ago. Since then, Kohli has played a combined 73 innings in Tests, ODIs and T20Is without hitting a century. He came very close to ending that wait, when he scored 94* vs the West Indies in a T20I on December 6, 2019. That remains his best T20I score. Before his last century (in November, 2019), he had 70 tons in 438 international innings, which is equivalent to scoring one hundred every 6.3 games. Now, that stat currently reads – one hundred in every 7.3 games – a substantial dip in a long career.
The last of his five IPL hundreds was scored in April 2019, so no century for Kohli in the last two seasons plus in the ongoing 15th edition of the league so far. Nothing seems to be working for Kohli, who even relinquished captaincy to focus on his batting.
Kohli’s decision to leave captaincy was welcomed by many citing his dip in batting performances – but has that resulted in him getting big scores? Let’s take a look:
Kohli’s international career after relinquishing captaincy
Tests: Kohli gave up captaincy of the longest format of the game after the Indian team lost 1-2 to South Africa in January this year. Since then, he has played two Tests – and in the three innings he has played since then, he has scored 81 runs @27.00 average, with a highest score of 45 off 76 against Sri Lanka in Mohali.
ODIs: Kohli was replaced as ODI captain by Rohit Sharma in December 2021. Since then he has played six ODIs, three each against South Africa and West Indies, and scored 142 runs at 23.67 average. He has hit two fifties in it with the highest score of 65 off 84 balls vs SA in Cape Town. And he also got out for a duck in two matches.
T20Is: Kohli had announced in September 2021 that he will be giving up T20I captaincy after the T20 World Cup in November last year. Since then he has played two T20Is against West Indies, and scored a total of 69 runs with one half-century — 52 off 41 in Kolkata.
Verdict: He has played 11 international innings without the burden of captaincy on him so far, and his highest score was 65 vs SA in Cape Town. The sample size is too small to predict his form after giving up captaincy, but whatever little cricket he has played just as a batter, in that the problem of not getting big scores remains intact.
Virat Kohli after leaving captaincy (international cricket):
How has Kohli as a batter fared in IPL 2022 so far?
Kohli is playing just as a senior batter in Royal Challengers Bangalore squad this season under the leadership of South African Faf du Plessis. The team is doing well so far and are third in the standings with 8 points from 6 games (till before the KKR vs RR match on April 18, Monday). But the bat of Kohli, the highest run-scorer in the history of the IPL and the only batter with 6000 plus runs in it, is still waiting for a match-defining big knock.
He started the 2022 campaign with a good outing with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 41 off 29 balls to help RCB post a massive 205/2. But they ended up losing the game to Punjab Kings by 5 wickets. A string of low scores followed – 12 vs Kolkata Knight Riders, 5 vs Rajasthan Royals, before he looked good with the bat again and contributed 48 off 36 in a successful chase against Mumbai Indians. And that is still Kohli’s best knock so far in the season, as two other small scores followed after that – 1 vs Chennai Super Kings & 12 vs Delhi Capitals.
So ‘not captain’ Kohli is still struggling to come up with big scores this season.
Virat Kohli’s IPL 2022 season so far:
Anyone who watches Virat bat these days can tell that the confidence is still very much there. The ball is still finding the middle of the bat and his match awareness is as sharp as ever. For the sake of Indian cricket and also to help RCB in their quest for their maiden IPL title, the fans will be hoping that it’s just a matter of time before he registers his next mammoth score. And that might just open the floodgate of runs for this modern day great, who is itching to strike his next purple patch.

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