It’s imperative that Virat Kohli skips India’s tour of Sri Lanka later this month. He has had a stressful 2017 – being the captain of the most powerful cricket team in the world isn’t a bed of roses.
The Test series against Australia was gruelling, considering the men from down under put up a solid fight even though they were playing in conditions not suited to them. It took a lot out of Kohli, who didn’t have a good run of form with the bat either. A shoulder injury sustained by diving to save a boundary, didn’t make things better and he had to skip the final Test as well as the initial part of the IPL season. Yes, he did get rest, but he wasn’t mentally relaxed – he was recovering from an injury.
After that, came IPL where Royal Challengers Bangalore were battered black and blue by most teams. There was a lack of fight shown from its players, and as captain, Virat had to do all the explanation to the media. Once, he got rid of that responsibility, he had to play the Champions Trophy. It’s understandable that the stress must have got the better of Kohli, and a legend like Anil Kumble had to bear the brunt. There was some tension in the camp before the trophy, but India managed to turn up a few good performances (they were lucky to find Bangladesh in the semis, and a below-par South Africa in the group stages) and reach the finals. In the finals though, the team fell apart and were hammered by No. 8th ranked Pakistan – their arch rivals.
After that, the West Indies tour happened which should have been a walk in the park, even for a second string India side. But, strangely, BCCI sent all its top players to the Caribbean. Kohli did manage a century and an 87 in the five match ODI series, but it doesn’t count for much given the sad state (even sadder than India) of affairs in West Indian cricket.
The whole Anil Kumble fiasco didn’t make things better. The search for a new coach was another talking point, with Virender Sehwag being a top contender. That is now done and decided, and Ravi Shastri will take the Head Coach responsibility with support from Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid.
India are set to play 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and a one-off T20I in Sri Lanka, shortly. Considering the opposition has just lost to Zimbabwe at home, Virat Kohli will do well to realize that his team can win without him. He needs to take a break – for himself, and for Indian cricket.