Analyzing the legitimacy of concerns over the form and legacy of Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli set the bar too high early in his career for his own good, not reaching the same heights lately. However, whether his downfall is an ordinary fall as is the case for most sportsmen or it harms his never-ending legacy, is the question this article aims to answer.

Imagine for a moment that you are back in 2019. It has been a stressful day and you turn on the television to see Virat Kohli hitting on 50 balls on about sixty balls. You smile quietly to yourself, knowing what is to come; the perfect storm of cricket’s most aesthetic shots struck with immense power and yet dripping with regal grace. Now imagine a random guy telling you that in three years hugs would be a thing of the past, face masks would move from cosplay to the daily essentials section and Virat Kohli would be dropped from the Indian team due to a dismal performance after a other.

Well, think back to 2022, because all of those things are true. The oddity of today’s times makes me believe that at some point we slipped into an alternate timeline, or at the very least Virat Kohli did. At this point, the only things that seem inevitable in life are death, taxes and the weekly reminders from the press that Virat Kohli hasn’t scored an international century since November 2019. I’m sure you’ve had enough couch experts analyzing Kohli’s technique. , the media’s wild speculations about his personal life and pundits tell you that the Delhite is the most privileged cricketer to still play for India. So let’s focus on something different today, let’s talk about perspective and legacy.

All the talk around Kohli’s lack of races ultimately begs the question, is this lean patch in Kohli’s career just a slump or an indication that his time at the elite level is well and truly over? Is Kohli a victim of his own standards, or does he really have such a terrible record that he no longer deserves to be hailed as the messiah of Indian cricket? So what about his legacy, has this downturn skewed our perception due to recency bias, and will this continue when we talk about him in the future? Well, let’s dive into the number of some of the greatest to have played the game and follow their career trajectory to see how it lines up with Virat Kohli’s chart.

No better place to start than the little master himself, Sachin Tendulkar. Firstly, there have only been two years in which the great has failed to score a century of international cricket throughout his 24-year career – his first year in 1989 and then in 1991. Moreover, since Sachin scored his first ODI century in 1994, not a year passed until his retirement in 2012 during which time he failed to register at least a hundred in the 50-over format. In the same time span, only once did his ODI average in a year fall below 30. The years 2005 and 2006 were the batsman’s worst dips in form, but the maestro still managed to rack up more than 1 700 runs in international cricket with a decent average of 35. That’s except for his twilight years of 2012 and 2013 when Tendulkar, aged nearly 40, was still scoring runs at a decent pace by most standards.


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Now on to the Aussie legend Ricky Bridge. Since 1996, only twice in 16 years of Test cricket has his annual average fallen below 35. In 1998, when he made nearly 1,200 runs in ODI over 24 innings with an astonishing average of 53, and in his penultimate year of play in 2011, in which he averaged over 40 in ODI over 15 innings. His biggest struggle in terms of centuries came in 2004 when he failed to hit hundreds in 34 matches of red-and-white ball cricket, but still has an overall average of 39.41 with 12 half-centuries . Throughout his career, there were no marked slums, just very temporary dips that didn’t even last a year.

For a fairer comparison, finally take a current era cricketer as sample data in the form of Joe Root. The former England skipper simply has exemplary numbers in testing, with his lowest calendar year average being a respectable 37 in 2019. In fact, 2020 was the only year after his first year in which Root n hasn’t scored a hundred Tests and this could be called his worst year on the international stage so far. In 18 innings in Tests and ODIs, he was only able to rack up 570 runs at an average of 35.63. It was the start of his decline in white-ball cricket and it has only steepened since, but at the same time 2021 and 2022 have been the top-notch hitter’s most prolific years against the red ball . So the downward spiral in ODIs just seems to be a matter of match practice and preference rather than poor form in general.

Now, to put all of this into context, let’s take a look at Virat Kohli’s numbers. During the years 2020 and 2021, which we will consider the starting point of his difficult period given that he went from averaging almost six centuries a year to not being able to score a single one, Kohli did not only managed 1,212 runs in the tests and ODIs at a dismal average of 32.75 by his standards. Previously, Batman’s worst average in tests in a calendar year was 42.66, except his freshman year. In 2020 and 2021, the Delhite test average was 19.33 and 28.21 respectively. Things got worse in 2022, with his tally reading just 476 in 19 innings across all formats at an average of 25. Not only is that hideous by Kohli’s standards, but also unacceptable to any player heralded as the key to vault of a national team like India. .

Further exacerbating these stats are his ungodly comebacks in the immediately preceding three years. In 2017, ’18 and ’19, Kohli racked up over 1,000 runs each year in the ODIs alone, averaging an astronomical 71.75 for Tests and ODIs. Another indicator of its fall is the number of IPLs. Since 2012, Kohli had never had a strike rate below 120 until 2021, then again in 2022. His average over these two years in the league? 25.72.

To conclude, Virat Kohli is quickly losing control of his bet on the title of the greatest drummer to have played the game from a numerical point of view. None of the other contenders for this audacious honor have had a meltdown quite like Kohli’s, let alone being discussed publicly so often. The fact that he still has the most 50s in international cricket since November 2019, barring Babar Azam, is no consolation given the potential limits of the great talent he possesses. The trajectory of concern over Virat Kohli’s form went quickly from his failure to convert his runs in a century, to the general lack of runs in all forms of cricket.

As for the question of legacy, however, the legend of Virat extends far beyond the spec sheets. He gave India and its fans countless divine performances that will go down in history as some of the greatest strokes in cricket. Whether it’s his centuries in England, his 183 against Pakistan, the blitz against Sri Lanka in Australia where he hit Lasith Malinga for four consecutive limits or the miraculous 2016 IPL season. However, the 33-year-old’s fall from grace will certainly leave a bitter taste every time his name returns in the future and a question whether it will haunt him forever if he does not regain its shape soon. For now, the man definitely deserves time in the Indian setup to get back into shape because at the end of the day the class is permanent and 20,000 international races are no fluke. Unfortunately, such rhetoric can only defend him for so long and unless the flavors of the old Virat are renewed where he let his bat do the talking, we might have already witnessed the end of an era even before to realize it.

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