Questions about Virat Kohli's place in India's T20 World Cup squad continue to swirl even at a time when the star batter is not a part of the Rohit Sharma-led side in the West Indies. Virat Kohli is currently on a break after the BCCI decided to rest him for the three ODIs and five T20Is in the Caribbean. Virat Kohli's woeful run, including a disappointing streak of consecutive under-30 scores across formats, has ignited an intense debate in India's cricketing circles about whether he should be picked in the team for the mega event in Australia or not. While the likes of Kapil Dev, Ajay Jadeja, and Aakash Chopra are in favor of his omission, former India stumper and ex-selector Saba Karim has been one of the ardent supporters of Virat Kohli's inclusion in the squad for prestigious competition Down Under. Keeping in mind Virat Kohli's record in Australia, Saba Karim has warned both captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid against taking a hasty decision about the Delhi-born cricket star.
Recent reports have suggested that the Indian cricket board was thinking about sending Virat Kohli on the tour of Zimbabwe where the Men in Blue are scheduled to play a couple of T2OIs. However, Saba Karim believes that forcing Virat Kohli to play in Africa would put undue pressure on the 33-year-old former India skipper and that's why advised Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid to give him ample time to regain his lost touch.
“First, I think the selectors and the team management have to figure out whether Virat Kohli is essential for India's preparation for India's T20 World Cup side or not. And once the selectors decide the team management feels that Virat Kohli is essential to the team’s success then I’d chart a path for Virat Kohli’s come back to great form,” Saba Karim told Sports18.
“I think that's the time when the selectors or the captain or Rahul Dravid would love to have a chat with him and then try and take it forward. I would not want to have any kind of imposition on Virat Kohli that ‘Hey listen, you have to come back and play this Zimbabwe series otherwise we’ll not pick you for the World Cup T20.’”
“So, I think once you decide that he is such an essential player for the team’s success, then I reach out to him. I’ll say okay, it is up to you to decide whether you want to come back and play the Zimbabwe ODI or you want to take an extended break and come back for the Asia Cup T20,” Saba Karim added.
Saba Karim also reckons that dropping Virat Kohli from India's limited-overs set-up will most likely prove to be a “blunder”, considering the man has scored over 23,000 runs in international cricket.
Saba Karim urged the Indian team management, including captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid to create a positive environment for Virat Kohli, telling him that he was very much a part of the national team's success story despite being out of form.
“I would say that'd be a blunder from India's perspective. Never do that. And I think Virat is such an important figure in the Indian line-up. The way I look at it, the way Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid have backed him, that makes sense because they know that Virat Kohli, fully back in good form, will be extremely beneficial for the team’s success in the World Cup T20,” Saba Karim elaborated.
“So, I think for the time being, as I said earlier, have a chat with Kohli, find some kind of a common part and then try and take it forward and make him feel as much as possible that he's such an essential player for India's success and take a call after the world cup T20 have another conversation with him and then decide how to take it forward,” Saba Karim noted.
“Because Kohli in the past several years has taken breaks at the right time. Although he remains an all three formats player for India. But the Indian team management has taken the right steps in order to assess his workload management and has given him the breaks at the right time,” Saba Karim concluded.
Virat Kohli has been going through an extended dry spell with the bat. During the recent tour of England, the former India captain managed to score just 76 runs in his six outings in a Test match, and two ODIs and T20Is each.
While he perished at scores of 11 and 20 in the rescheduled fifth and final Test against the Three Lions in Edgbaston, Virat Kohli was dismissed for 1 and 11 in the T20I games in Birmingham and Trent Bridge.
Though he missed the first clash of the ODI series because of a groin injury, he didn't succeed in changing his fortunes in the remaining two 50-over matches as he registered a total of 33 runs, making 16 and 17 at the Lord's and Old Trafford respectively.
Before that, Virat Kohli had a horror run in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as he could score only 341 runs at a mediocre average of 22.73 in 16 games in the tournament.
Virat Kohli last made a century in any form of international cricket in the historic Pink-ball Test against Bangladesh in November 2019.
Since then, he has gone 78 consecutive knocks without a three-figure score on the international stage.