When India headed for England, Virat Kohli was looked up to as the key batsman, considering his recent success in South Africa and New Zealand. However, four innings into the series, Kohli has surprisingly been the most unsuccessful of all Indian batsmen. He has struggled in all his visits to the crease, and even when he has got starts, he has failed to carry on. One cannot be too harsh on Kohli for he has been India's best batsman across all formats in all conditions over the last two years. His recent lack of form is a clear cut case of the law of averages catching up with him. But, Kohli's struggles have definitely hurt India in a big way.
Kohli's dismissal in the second innings at Lord's was definitely indicative of his loss of form. Kohli shouldered his arms to the first ball he faced from Liam Plunkett. Kohli thought the ball would go the other way round, but the delivery came in and knocked back the batsman's off stump. Kohli just couldn't figure out which way the ball would go. Unsure, he decided to leave the ball, thinking he had covered his off stump with his pads. But, Plunkett completely outthought him. An in-form and confident Kohli would definitely have dealt with the ball in a more assured manner.
The lack of runs from India's number four has paralysed India since they have had to constantly rebuild in each innings. In the opening Test at Trent Bridge, Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni along with the lower order ensured that Kohli's failures did not lead to an Indian batting collapse. In the first innings at Lord's as well, Ajinkya Rahane's impressive hundred enabled India fight the tough conditions. Considering how crucial Kohli has been to India's cause over the years, India have been lucky that they haven't had to stare directly at defeats in the two Tests thus far. India would definitely hope though that Kohli can retain form soon enough.
It is still too early to worry about Kohli's form, but his dismissals have made it clear that he has some work to do as far as his technique is considered. On more than one occasion he has been dismissed edging the ball behind stumps. While his back foot technique was perfect for South Africa where the ball was rising high, the same has caused him trouble in England. Kohli has been unsuccessful in covering the line of the ball, which has been why he has been edging the ball. It is not a major flaw in technique, and does not deserve a chance in his style; minor modifications in his stance might well help Kohli turn around his fortunes. Knowing how suave the youngster is, Kohli would definitely be working on his form.
Kohli needs to ensure that his failures do not exist too long for his poor run is coinciding with his alleged affair with a high-profile Bollywood actress. While that is his personal matter, if his bad run continues, fans in particular will question his dedication to the sport. It might be unfair, but a sportsman is never away from the spotlight. Many other batsmen have been subjected to the same criticism over the years. And, if Kohli's run extends, he cannot escape the harsh spotlight for too long.
--By A Cricket Analyst