“Why is this even a discussion. I can’t understand this,” said Indian captain Rohit Sharma when he was questioned on the future of Virat Kohli in this team, after a harrowing loss to England in the second ODI. This is not the first instance of Rohit defending his predecessor, as questions keep piling over the latter’s form.
Rohit reiterated that a player of Kohli’s calibre needs to be backed at such time, as it is only a matter of an innings or two. On Thursday at Lord’s, Kohli again failed to pile up a decent score, despite showing glimpses of brilliance in the first few balls.
After a jittery start, Kohli struck three sumptuous drives – on-drive, off-drive, and a cover drive – but then ended up edging to the wicketkeeper, Jos Buttler. It has been three years since he last scored a century, and has managed just over 300 runs this year. And it’s only logical for fans to question his place in this team.
“He [Kohli] has played so many matches. He is playing for so many years. He is such a great batsman so he does not need reassurance,” Rohit said after the game. “I pointed to this in my last press conference, too: form goes up and down, that is part and parcel of any cricketer’s career.”
Kohli missed the first ODI of the series due to a groin injury, and will not be available for the five-match T20I series against West Indies. With the T20 World Cup set to be played later this year, Kohli’s absence, especially when he is struggling to buy runs, is glaring.
But Rohit maintained that Kohli will be backed unconditionally. “So a player like him, who has played for so many years, who has made so many runs, who has won so many matches, he only needs one or two good innings [to bounce back]. That is my thinking and I am sure all those who follow cricket will think similarly.”
Not only the Indian skipper, but his English counterpart Jos Buttler too echoed the same, when he was asked about Kohli’s slump. Buttler said, “I suppose in a little way it’s quite refreshing for the rest of us that he [Kohli] is human and he can have a couple of low scores as well, but look he has been one of the best players, if not the best player in ODI cricket in the world.”
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