Amid rising questions about Virat Kohli’s form, several former Indian cricketers, including the great Kapil Dev have called for his removal from India’s T20 team. However, former India selector and wicketkeeper Saba Karim has thrown his weight behind the struggling superstar. According to Saba Karim, Virat Kohli has the backing of both captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid and it was “too early” to decide whether the Delhi-born cricketer will be on the flight to Australia or not. The T20 World Cup will be played Down Under in October and November.
“It is too early to question Virat Kohli’s place in the playing 11 as we have a lot of time before the T20 World Cup starts. He is fighting his own battle and the team management should not pay heed to the criticism and believe in his process to return to the form,” Saba Karim told Jagran TV.
“Kohli is such a great player. He has set such high standards with his earlier performances that anything less than that will raise questions. However, he should not get affected by the criticism and we can see that he is not. He is analysing his game and putting efforts to return to his form. The team management should support him in every manner,” Saba Karim added.
“I feel that it’s better for him to play more and more cricket so that he can return to his form. The management and selectors should also focus and support his process to come back to his form and give more chances,” Saba Karim said.
“I don’t think the criticism is affecting the team negatively. The team has a good bonhomie, whenever you ask Rohit Sharma about Virat’s form, his answer is always positive. Even Rahul Dravid seems positive when it comes to Kohli’s form,” Saba Karim opined.
After returning to international cricket at the start of July, Virat Kohli has failed to make more than 20 runs in his five knocks across all formats for the Rahul Dravid-coached Indian Cricket Team.
Virat Kohli’s last appearance in India colors came on Thursday in the second ODI against England. But it turned out to be yet another disappointing outing for him as he played a reckless shot on a wide delivery bowled outside the off-stump by England speedster David Willey to lose his wicket for 16 at the iconic Lord’s in London.
In total, Virat Kohli has now gone 965 days and 77 innings without a century in international cricket with his last hundred coming against Bangladesh in the historic Pink-ball Test in Kolkata in 2019.
Earlier, Saba Karim pinpointed a major flaw in Virat Kohli’s batting that he feels is the root cause of his ongoing struggles with the bat.
“I feel he needs a little more concentration and stronger willpower to emerge from this phase. This story has been repeated by Virat Kohli many times. That is why we have been saying how good he looks, he is in good form, but the search for the big score is still there,” the former India selector said on Sony Sports.
“Kohli’s speciality has always been that he allows the ball to come close to his body and then he plays his shots. But the way he has been getting out, the way he got out today as well, the ball was too far outside the off-stump and he tried to flirt with it and the result was that he got out again,” Saba Karim elaborated.
Explaining the main reason behind Virat Kohli’s extended lean patch with the bat, the ex-India stumper said that the opposition bowlers have figured out a pattern and they are making good use of it to dismiss him during matches at the moment.
“I am seeing a pattern in Virat Kohli’s dismissals, what happens before that. We saw in the Test matches that he played fantastic drives off the front foot, so are bowlers setting him up like that?” Saba Karim explained.
“They first pitch it up to him, so that he commits himself on the front foot and then shorten the length slightly and then get a wicket there. It is necessary for Virat Kohli to understand this and then find a solution for it. You can emerge from this phase if you are ready to bring a change in your game plan,” Saba Karim further said.
Virat Kohli will be back in action on Sunday when Rohit Sharma and company will face Jos Buttler and men in the third and final ODI at Old Trafford in Manchester.
At 1-1, the series is currently tied between the two teams with India winning the first game at the Kennington Oval followed by the home side’s triumph at Lord’s on Thursday.