Virat Kohli and T20 WC's: A one-sided love affair!

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Virat Kohli and T20 WC's: A one-sided love affair!

10 Nov 2021 323 Views Yash Mittal

As Robin Petersen pulled a slower bouncer from Laxmipathy Balaji for a single, cameras panned on a seemingly inconsolable Virat Kohli. The single ensured India were eliminated from the competition in the Super-8 stage.

As cameras panned on Virat, one saw an inconsolable kid, who had been denied a candy by his parents. It was the first time I saw an Indian player weep on the field (I was just 3 when Vinod Kambli cried his way out of Eden Gardens during the 1996 semi-final).

It was the start of what has been a turbulent relationship between Virat and the T20 World Cups. The relationship reached its nadir on October 31 when Team India lost the must-win game against New Zealand to effectively end their chance of making it to the semi-finals.

The last three games felt like the India-Bermuda game from the 2007 WC spread over three different days as the campaign died a slow, painful death.

As is the case after every Indian defeat, the skeletons are out of the closet. People are calling for Kohli's head without realizing he'd already given up the captaincy from the shortest format prior to the tournament. They want him to be removed from all formats. Yes, even from Test matches where he has led India to never seen before heights in the last seven years.

But, then, this article isn't about what Kohli has achieved as Test captain or his stellar T20I record during which he led India to series wins in Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka.

As Virat walked into the sunset as T20I skipper, I couldn't  help but think back to that October night in 2012, I mentioned at the start of the piece.

Kohli spearheaded the Indian batting in that tournament and over the course of the next two editions, he went on to take his batting to the next level, effectively carrying a bunch of non-performers to the knockout stages.

He averaged more than 100 in the 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups and was rightfully adjudged 'Player of the tournament'. But the elusive title still eluded him.

Four years after that tear-jerking night, Kohli once again let the emotions get the better of him as Lendl Simmons and the West Indies steamrolled India in the semi-final of the 2016 event.

With Virat announcing that the T20 World Cup will be his swansong as skipper in the shortest format of the game, fans like me thought "Can the Indian players rise to the occasion and send him on a high as T20I skipper much like what the 2011 side did for Sachin?"

On October 24, as India lost three wickets in the powerplay, the dream took a hit as Kohli was once again left to wipe out the mess and take the side to a respectable total.

He resurrected the sinking ship with a fine half-century. At his peak, Kohli would have converted the knock into an 80 or 90 to take the team to a big score. 

But the current version of Virat needed support from his fellow batters, which, just like the 2014 and 2016 event never arrived.

India posted an under-par total which was never going to bother Pakistan given the presence of dew in the second innings. And, it didn't. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan made a mockery of the target to break India's proud streak.

The last six 50+ scores by an Indian in a T20 WC before the New Zealand game had all been scored by Virat. 

"He is due for a failure", was my immediate thought after I saw that stat flashing on the screen during the Pakistan game. "It is time for other batters to step up against New Zealand, otherwise this campaign is up in smoke", I feared.

India has been on the wrong side of the Law of averages in recent months and this was once again proved to the hilt during the game against New Zealand as other batsmen continued to underwhelm and Virat arguably played his worst-ever T20I knock- a painstaking 17-ball 9.

This is not to say that Virat shouldn't take his fair share of blame for the decision to slot Rohit at No.3 and himself at No.4 in such a crucial game when he could have easily slotted KL at 4 while opening with Rohit and Ishan Kishan.

The punt was wrong on so many levels considering the fact that both him and Rohit struggle during the middle-overs against spin and Rahul's versatility to adapt to different positions.

Having said that, Virat carried the team in the last three T20 WC's, especially in the last two, and this event was supposed to be his swansong as skipper. When he needed them the most, his fellow batters didn't rise to the occasion.

The game against New Zealand where India meandered to 110/7 in 20 overs was a rare instance where Virat didn't carry the shambles that is Indian batting in T20 WC over the past three editions. 

Cricket is a team sport. I know it's a cliche. But nothing can ever vindicate that enough than Kohli's relationship with T20 WC's- a one-sided love affair which reached its nadir on Monday.

Yash Mittal

Bharat Army Cricket Writer

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