Over the past few years, Virat Kohli has firmly established himself as one of the best batsman in the world. He has broken record after record and set himself up to finish as one of the greatest limited over players ever. He has also build a reputation for being the man for the team when it needs it the most. He has been the player who carried India out of the toughest of situations, playing some epic knocks and been the hero in scripting some remarkable victories for team India.
Having established himself as the Mr Consistent and Mr Dependable of the Indian batting order, Kohli is the players who the country looks up to come the big matches. Such has been his ability to cease the big moments, that in the crunch matches its an expectation and not a hope that he will deliver the goods for the team.
Hence when India took on Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final, Indian fans were confident that Kohli would guide them through the tough chase.But Mohammed Amir had other ideas.Kohli’s wicket fell for the tender score of 5 and India’s hopes of chasing the enormous target took a huge blow, one they failed to recover from.
Kohli walking back to the dressing room having failed to make an impact on the grand occasion was a shocker for cricket fans. It also served as a surprising reality check.It was also a reminder of previous matches of this magnitude.
This wasn’t the first time Kohli had failed in an ICC tournament knockout match. In fact it has been quite a common sight. Virat Kohli has played 4 ICC ODI tournaments, quite exceptionally India have reached at least the semi-finals in all of them. The numbers that come out of these games aren’t quite what one may have expected from a player of his caliber.
Kohli has scored 274 runs in 9 ICC tournament ODI knockout matches at an average of 39.14. While the stats though below normal do not seem that bad. A closer look shows half centuries vs Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the 2013 and 2017 champions trophy semifinals which came in very comfortable chases massively inflate these figures. They are his is only 50+scores in the 9 matches.
A look at his scores in ODI tournament finals (World Cup, Champions Trophy, Asia Cup, Tri-series etc) doesn’t paint a pretty picture either. In the 8 ODI finals Kohli has played, he has scored 154 runs at an average of 22 without any half century.
So does Kohli not have the temperament for doing it on the big day? The answer isn’t quite that simple. One look at his t20 records exhibits a completely different story. In the knockout matches at the t20 world cup, Kohli has scored 238 runs in 3 matches having only been dismissed once. This is even without the slightest of exaggeration is a complete contrast to his ODI knockouts record.
Also while looking at his ODI finals record, one must not forget the importance of his 35 in the 2011 world cup and 43 in the 2013 champions trophy final. While the first was crucial to stabilizing the chase after a bad start, the knock in the Champions Trophy final came in what was a t20 game after the team was reduced to 65-5.
In games against Pakistan, (which are as big and contain as much pressure as any in the country) his only failures have been in the 2011 World cup Semifinal and 2017 Champions Trophy final. Apart from that be it the 2015 World Cup encounter or the games in the three T20 World cups in the period he has produced a man of the match performance. Though all these matches were group stage encounters.
So quite clearly Kohli is more than capable of producing it when the pressure is the on. He can evidently do it on the big stage. But it quite hasn’t happened for him in ODI cricket quite yet. In a format where he continues to diminish every record in front of him and set new standards of excellence, the record at the big stage remains a huge blip. If he wants to be remembered as the greatest in the format, he has to change this stat. He has to be a catalyst in winning a major event for him to cement his greatness. The good thing for Kohli is that he still has a lot of time to correct things. Kohli and the Indian cricket fans will be hoping that he can put things in place when he returns to England in 2 years time for the World Cup.