Form is temporary but class is permanent; this is what one can associate with India's Virat Kohli. The batting maestro, who was once touted to beat Sachin Tendulkar's 100-ton record, has not registered a century since November 2019.
The 33-year-old star's form has become a concern, and there have been calls from various cricketing corners to drop him and induct young guns in the middle order.
The big question is: Three years down the line, one can't even think of benching Virat Kohli so can India afford to drop him?
In the last 10 international innings in the shorter format, Kohli has scores of 7, 1, 80, 57, 9, 2, 17, 52, 1, and 11. The numbers are great as it includes four fifties but he has only featured in four T20Is this year.
His form in the Indian Premier League (IPL) was not great either, where he registered only 341 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 115.99.
He is not part of the T20I squad for the West Indies tour and the BCCI stated Kohli had been provided rest.
The Chase Master is himself very eager to do well and has promised to give his best to help the Indian side win the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup.
"My main aim is to help India win the Asia Cup and the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup and for that I am ready to do anything for the team," Virat Kohli said.
Players Come In Virat Kohli’s Defence
The likes of Kapil Dev have opined that Virat Kohli's inclusion should not be based on his reputation and the selectors must take a harsh decision of dropping him and including youngsters.
"Play in-form players when you have loads of options. You can't just go by reputation, you have to look for the current form. You can be an established player but that doesn't mean that you will be given chances even if you fail five games in a row," Kapil had said.
On the other hand, Indian captain Rohit Sharma hit back at critics questioning Virat Kohli's inclusion.
"We should always keep this in mind that there is a quality in certain players and we as a team back that quality, Sharma said during the series in England.
"When someone is scoring consistently for so long, we can't overlook his contribution if he is not scoring in one or two series or in one or two years. We know the importance of Virat Kohli. The experts have got all the right to talk about it, but for us, these things don't matter," he added.
Australian great Ricky Ponting opined that India's decision to drop Virat Kohli from the T20 World Cup squad in Australia could put an end to his career and there might be no way back for him.
"If you leave Virat out of the eve of the World Cup, and someone comes in and has a reasonable tournament, it will be hard for Virat to get back in it," Ponting said.
"If I was India, I will keep pushing him, because I know the upside. If they actually get him back confident and play as well as he can, that upside is better than most. So I think if I was a captain or a coach around the Indian set up, I would be making life as easy as possible for him to feel as comfortable as possible, and just wait for him to flick the switch and start scoring runs again."
Virat Kohli's Record In Australia
Virat Kohli is a T20I legend as he averages over 50 and has a strike rate of 137.7. The right-handed batter has claimed Player of the Tournament awards in the 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cup.
In Australia, Virat Kohli has scored 451 runs in 11 innings at an average of 64.42 with the highest score of 90. He has fabulous down under as the big grounds allow batters like him to maneuver the ball in the gaps and find boundaries at a crucial stage.
Youngsters Knocking Doors
India found a new sensation at the top when senior players were not on the T20 side. The likes of Deepak Hooda have announced and have been providing firepower. Even in the last game before he was left out, Hooda made 33 runs off 17 balls. He also stroked a century against Ireland and already struck at the rate of 172.26.
Hooda's acceleration also forced Kohli to play his shots from the get-go during the last two T20Is against England.
Meanwhile, Suryakumar Yadav has also grown as a player in this particular format. The 31-year-old bats with a strike rate of 177.22 and have been a mainstay for India in the middle order. At the same time, Hardik Pandya has also found his form and is most likely to bat at No.6, while Rishabh Pant is a must.
But depending on youngsters may fire back for India in a huge tournament like World Cup and having the presence of Virat Kohli might be beneficial if he finds his mojo back before the mega event. 2022 Asia Cup in UAE, home series against Australia and South Africa will define Kohli's inclusion at the T20 World Cup and it would be very pitty if a batter of his stature doesn't make the cut.
Since the appointment of Rahul Dravid as head coach, India has not backed down on dropping seniors. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane also could not save their spots in the Test side but the case of Virat Kohli is different.
He also brings things like sponsorships to the table and if he is not part of India's side in the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup will prove detrimental for the organizers.
The bottom line is India can't afford to step on the field without an individual like him but only Virat Kohli can bring his form back and provide complete trust to Indian team management in the games before the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup.
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