“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 biggest talking point in Indian cricket for a while now and the former India captain’s struggles off late have led to talks about his place in the team. It is a well document fact by now that Kohli has not scored an international century since November 2019, but he was still getting in good knocks in all formats after international cricket resumed in late 2020 and 2021.

But the runs have dried up across formats since the IPL and Kohli is under pressure now. He has been rested for the West Indies tour but the batter is very much in the scheme of things for the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup later in the year.

Former India spinner and member of the IPL Governing Council Pragyan Ojha spoke to cricket journalist and anchor Jamie Alter during an episode of his chat show on Glance about Kohli’s current form and pointed out the fact that Kohli’s high standards are the reason why people are getting impatient about him not getting big runs.

“When you talk about Virat Kohli, you have to understand the things he has achieved … they are not normal. Getting those 70 hundreds in a span of about ten years is outstanding. Who are the other players who have done that? Not many. That is the reason why Rohit [Sharma], Rahul bhai [Dravid| and the team are backing him. They know that if he gets that one knock, things will turn around and suddenly you will see the old Virat Kohli. And when you have that Virat Kohli in your team and you’re going for the T20 World Cup and then the 50-overs World Cup, any team would do anything to get him. I think it’s just a matter of time,” Ojha said.

He further said that Kohli had a brilliant conversion rate in international cricket, which saw him race his way to 70 international hundreds, and that is why even a half-century from him seems like a failure at times.

“See, with cricket it’s not about mathematics that two plus two is four. You will fail. That’s the beauty of sport. This is Virat Kohli we’re talking about. His conversion rate has been tremendous. He used to go to bat and get hundreds and the bar was set so high that now we don’t talk about Virat getting a 30 or 40. His 50 also seems like a failure because the bar is 100.

“We need to understand that in sport you can be very well prepared but … this is what Rahul bhai told me once that you’ve been batting really, really well in the nets, in match simulations you’ve been timing the ball really well and you’re so confident and you walk in the next day during a game aur bowler ne inswing daala, ball outswing hua aur caught behind,” Ojha said.

Ojha feels that Kohli has done a lot for Indian cricket and he deserves the backing he is getting from captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid. But he also feels that Kohli should have played in the West Indies series to regain form.

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“When you look at Virat’s batting, it is not about the skill or that he’s not timing it well or his fitness has taken a beating. He’s just there, and I think better than others with his work ethic and discipline. The only thing is that maybe mentally he’s a little caught up somewhere. Maybe that’s why he’s been regularly taking breaks. We have to understand that the last couple of years were very challenging with the bio bubbles and all, and you don’t know how it affects someone individually. What Virat has done for Indian cricket, he’s getting the right kind of backing, but personally I feel that he should have been there in the West Indies because this was a great opportunity for him to make a comeback and get some great runs.

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

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