“Not about skills, it’s about his mental space”: ex-India Spinner on Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli’s form with the bat has been the hottest topic of conversation in Indian cricket for some time now and the late battle of the former India captain has sparked talks over his place in the team. It is now a well-documented fact that Kohli hasn’t scored an international century since November 2019, but he still took some good hits in all formats after international cricket resumed in late 2020 and 2021.

But runs have dried up in all formats since the IPL and Kohli is now under pressure. He is equipped for the West Indies tour, but the batter is very much on the schedule for the Asian Cup and T20 World Cup later in the year.

Former India spinner and IPL board member Pragyan Ojha spoke to cricket journalist and broadcaster Jamie Alter on an episode of his chat show on Glance about Kohli’s current form and pointed out that Kohli’s high standards are why people are getting impatient that he doesn’t get big runs.

“When you talk about Virat Kohli, you have to understand what he has achieved… they are not normal. It is excellent to get those 70 hundreds in a span of about ten years. Who are the other players who have done that? Not much. That’s why Rohit [Sharma]Rahul bhai[Dravid|enhetteamsteunthemZewetendatalshijdieeneklopkrijgtdedingenzullenveranderenenjeplotselingdeoudeViratKohlizultzienEnalsjedieViratKohliinjeteamhebtenjegaatvoordeT20WorldCupendande50-oversWorldCupzouelkteamallesdoenomhemtekrijgenIkdenkdatheteenkwestievantijdis”[Dravid|andtheteamarebackinghimTheyknowthatifhegetsthatoneknockthingswillturnaroundandsuddenlyyouwillseetheoldViratKohliAndwhenyouhavethatViratKohliinyourteamandyou’regoingfortheT20WorldCupandthenthe50-oversWorldCupanyteamwoulddoanythingtogethimIthinkit’sjustamatteroftime”[Dravid|enhetteamsteunthemZewetendatalshijdieeneklopkrijgtdedingenzullenveranderenenjeplotselingdeoudeViratKohlizultzienEnalsjedieViratKohliinjeteamhebtenjegaatvoordeT20WorldCupendande50-oversWorldCupzouelkteamallesdoenomhemtekrijgenIkdenkdatheteenkwestievantijdis”[Dravid|andtheteamarebackinghimTheyknowthatifhegetsthatoneknockthingswillturnaroundandsuddenlyyouwillseetheoldViratKohliAndwhenyouhavethatViratKohliinyourteamandyou’regoingfortheT20WorldCupandthenthe50-oversWorldCupanyteamwoulddoanythingtogethimIthinkit’sjustamatteroftime”Ojha said.

He went on to say that Kohli had a brilliant conversion rate in international cricket, making his way to 70 international hundreds, which is why even half a century of his seems like a failure at times.

‘Look, cricket isn’t about math that two plus two equals four. You will fail. That’s the beauty of sports. This is Virat Kohli we are talking about. His conversion rate was huge. He went to bat and got hundreds and the bar was so high that we’re not talking about Virat getting a 30 or 40. His 50 also seems like a failure because the bar is 100.

“We have to understand that in sports you can be very well prepared, but… this is what Rahul bhai once told me that you hit the nets very, very well, in match simulations you timed the ball very well and you are so confident and you walk in the next day during a match aur bowler ne inswing daala, ball outswing hua aur caught behind it,” said Ojha.

Ojha believes Kohli has done a lot for Indian cricket and deserves the support he gets from captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid. But he also thinks Kohli should have played in the West Indies series to get back in shape.

“When you look at Virat’s percussion, it’s not about skill or whether he’s not timing it right or his fitness has taken a hit. He’s just there, and I think better than others with his work ethic and discipline. The only thing is, he might be mentally stuck somewhere. Maybe that’s why he takes regular breaks. We have to understand that the last few years have been very challenging with the bio bubbles and stuff, and you don’t know how it affects someone individually. What Virat has done for Indian cricket he gets the right support but personally I think he should have been there in the West Indies as this was a great opportunity for him to make a comeback and get some great runs .

“That’s the reason Rohit and Rahul Bhai are very, very careful and give him breaks on and off. That time to settle down. It’s not about Virat’s skills anymore. It’s about his mental space,” Ojha added.

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