It was the second duck for the 32-year-old in the ongoing series — only the second instance in his Test career where Kohli was out for nought twice in a series — as he was undone by a hurried-shorter ball from England all-rounder Ben Stokes.
There’s no doubt that Virat was surprised. He turned back to look at the spot on the pitch where the ball had bounced. Former England Captain Michael Vaughan, who has been very critical of the pitches on offer in the series, didn’t miss the opportunity and tweeted to say – ‘Surely that wasn’t Virat staring at the pitch!’
Surely that wasn’t Virat staring at the Pitch … !!!!! #INDvENG 😜
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) 1614923029000
While Vaughan concentrated on the pitch, ‘Kohli’ and ‘duck’ began trending on Twitter. Memes began doing the rounds on Instagram.
The debate on Kohli’s form begins every time he goes a few matches without scoring a really big score. It’s understandable. After all he is one of the finest batsmen across formats that the cricketing world has seen and the expectations from him are huge.
So prolific has Virat been in his career so far that he has consistently set the bar higher, thereby making the fans expect more from him every time. A duck here or a low score there is enough to ignite a debate over whether Virat is going through a slump. His career Test average for the record is 52.74.
The last time Kohli scored a Test ton was in November, 2019 in the Day-Night Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata. Since then Kohli has not got to the three-figure mark. However, since that Test, Virat has played just 6 Tests (two vs New Zealand, one vs Australia and three vs England). But for many that’s too long a time for a modern day great to go without a really big score. After all every time he steps onto a cricket field, the fans expect him to score a ton.
The last century Kohli scored in ODIs was also in 2019 when he hit an unbeaten 114 against West Indies in Port of Spain.
In the shortest format, Virat’s last fifty was scored as recently as against Australia last year when he cracked an 85-run knock in Sydney in December.
In the ongoing Test series vs England, Virat’s highest score has been 72. He has so far scored 172 runs in 6 innings in this series. His average so far in this series is 28.66.
So is Virat out of form? Is he going through a slump?
While everyone’s definitions of those might be different, a look at how Virat has done in his last 50 Tests (broken into two blocks to show two different phases) is a good indicator of his progression and why people might think he is out of form every time he goes a few matches without registering a very big score.
Virat has so far played 90 completed Test matches. The ongoing Test vs England in Ahmedabad is his 91st. Let’s go back 50 Tests, divided into two sets of 25 each to see what his numbers look like:
Test No.: 41 to 65 (25 Tests)
This set will help you understand the math around Kohli’s numbers between December 2015 to January 2018 where he was part of series against teams like South Africa (home and away), West Indies (away), New Zealand (home), England (home), Australia (home), Bangladesh (home) and Sri Lanka (home and away).
During this period Kohli amassed a mountain of runs, scoring a staggering 2597 runs in 25 Tests.
In these matches Virat smashed 10 centuries and 4 fifties, with a highest score of 243, at a mind boggling average of over 72.
These 25 Tests also saw Kohli smash 6 double tons.
The next block of 25 Tests in Virat’s career that we are analysing are from Test number 66 to 90 in his career.
Test No. 66 to 90
This is the period that includes the time during which there has been a lot of talk about Virat’s form dipping.
This set covers the last 25 completed Tests Kohli has played. The period takes into consideration matches from January 2018 till the 3rd Test of the ongoing Test series against England.
15 of these 25 Tests were played in other countries, which include the SENA countries and the Carribean.
Kohli during this time scored 2031 runs. That’s 566 runs less than the previous 25 Tests he played.
In this period he scored 6 tons (4 less than in the previous 25 Tests) and 10 fifties (6 more than what he scored in the last set of 25 Tests).
His highest score in this period was 254*, scored against South Africa in Pune, Kohli averaged 50.77 in this set of 25 Tests.
The numbers show why the debate over whether Virat’s form has dipped or not has become louder in the recent past. His average over the last 25 Tests has fallen as compared to the 25 he played before that and so have the number of centuries and total runs scored. However the number of fifties have gone up. By no means have his numbers been below-par going by the usual benchmarks for a set of 25 Tests. However, for Virat the benchmarks seem to be different, because the fans always expect him to be performing in top gear.
In his last 10 Test innings, Virat has scored 267 runs, with three half centuries, at an average of 26.70. By his own lofty standards, those are well below-par numbers.
Another way of looking at Virat’s overall Test numbers is to divide the Tests he has played in his career so far in a different way.
If the 90 completed Tests of his career are broken up into three sets of 30 Tests each, this is what the numbers show:
Test 1 to 30: 8 centuries & 9 fifties
Test 31 to 60: 9 centuries & 5 fifties (with 4 double hundreds)
Test 61 to 90: 10 centuries & 11 fifties (with 3 double hundreds)
This shows that in the last 30 Tests that he has played, his centuries and fifty count has in fact gone up as compared to the 30 Tests before that. In fact he has been the most prolific in the last block of 30 Tests he has played.
Yes, the Indian skipper failed miserably in New Zealand, with scores of 2, 19, 3 and 14 in the two Tests. He also played just one Test in Australia in the recently concluded series. But in the only Test he did play in Adelaide, Kohli fought a tough battle against the hostile bowling attack of the Aussies, although in a losing cause. In India’s first innings score of 244 in that match, Virat had the highest score of 74, before being run out.
Over the years, the best in the business have all gone through lean patches in their careers. The question is – going by the numbers, would you say Virat is going through a lean patch?