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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Unusual runs: Kohli struggling in Indian Premier League

Three golden ducks, three single-digit scores and just one score above 50.

If Virat Kohli’s name had not been linked to that sequence of batting scores in the world’s richest cricket league, the selectors’ patience would have already run out.

But Kohli walks on board in many other ways.

He is India’s most skilled batsman with over 10,000 runs in the limited overs format, and has a lot of experience.

Kohli relinquished the captaincy of Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of this Indian Premier League season, while promising to serve the franchise as a player.

Most cricket pundits thought that removing the burden of leading Bengaluru – which has never won a title in the lucrative Twenty20 league – would bring the best out of Kohli.

But it doesn’t click. His tally of runs stood at 216 in 12 matches when he took his third golden duck in the weekend against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The slick cover drive that Kohli is known for, seems to be a stroke he has forgotten to execute with utmost precision. Just 20 fours in 12 matches are proof of the master batsman’s struggle against the bowlers.

Kohli tried to regain his luck by opening for Bangalore after a barren run at No. His first two golden ducks – against Lucknow Super Giants and Sunrisers Hyderabad – came at No. 3 while facing fast bowlers.

He went ahead and opened the innings and scored his only fifty of the tournament against Gujarat Titans. His knock of 58 runs in 53 balls at a strike rate of 109.43 was not enough to save his team from a six-wicket loss. He batted till the 17th over and Mohammed Shami dismissed him with a yorker.

After Kohli’s first ball duck in the tournament, former India head coach Ravi Shastri suggested the former national team captain to take a break from competitive cricket.

“I am going straight to the main man here. Virat Kohli is overcooked. If anyone needs a break, it is him,” Shastri told the tournament broadcasters. “Whether it is two months or a month and a half, whether it is Be it before (England) (tour in July) or England, he needs a break because he has six-seven years of cricket left and you don’t want to lose it with a fried mind.”

Since then, Kohli has added two more golden ducks.

Commentator and high-profile former England batsman Kevin Pietersen said Kohli needs to say “I’ll see you later” to cricket and divert his attention from social media to re-energize himself.

“When stadiums fill up again, you’re guaranteed to have him on that team for the next 12, 24 or 36 months,” Pietersen said. “Tell him, ‘You are our man. We know you will deliver for us.'”

He admitted that it would be difficult for Kohli if he is “completely fried”.

Kohli’s RCB franchise could still make it to the playoffs, finishing in the top four with 14 points from two league matches.

The 33-year-old has shown many times in his long career that he can turn things around quickly. Millions of his fans are hopeful that change will come soon for Bangalore.

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More Associated Press Cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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