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Instances when Virat Kohli failed to deliver under pressure

Sep 5, 2023

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Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Virat Kohli has been the biggest match-winner in the Indian team for the last few years. His unprecedented contribution to Indian cricket turned him into a star player long ago. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, Indian cricket team fans used to expect Sachin Tendulkar to deliver match-winning innings to the side. Similarly, Team India supporters now expect Kohli to shine with the bat in every crucial game. 

However, Kohli’s critics always come heavily on him for his dismal numbers with the bat in marquee games. In the ongoing Asia Cup, Kohli gave his prized scalp to Shaheen Shah Afridi with just four runs in the Group A match against Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. Following this failure, the batting maestro was severely criticized for his ineffective batting figures in pivotal matches.

Here are the five instances when Virat Kohli failed to hold his nerves in crucial encounters
5. India versus New Zealand- 2021 World Test Championship final

After playing positive cricket for two years in Test cricket from 2019 to 2021, India qualified for the 2021 World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand in Southampton. Kohli, the then captain of the team, was expected to lead the side from the front and make India the first champions of the marquee red-ball tournament. 

In the huge game, the toss favoured New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and he decided to put India to bat first. India got off to a positive start with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill stitching a 62-run partnership for the first wicket. However, after the sudden dismissal of top-order batters, Kohli’s responsibility was to play a huge knock so that India could put up a competitive score against the Kiwi side.

The batting maestro spent more than three hours at the crease but eventually got dismissed after contributing only 44 runs. Following his wicket, India collapsed and got folded on 217. In the second innings, India got a chance to make a comeback in the game as after the first innings, India were only 32 runs behind and a fine batting show could’ve helped them get the better of the Blac Caps.  

However, Indian batters crumbled under pressure again in the second innings. This time, they got bundled out on 170 and Kohli also surrendered on 13. The veteran’s non-performance cost India as they faced an embarrassing eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Williamson and his men.

4. India versus Australia- 2023 World Test Championship final

After the 2021 WTC final hammering, India played a fierce brand of Test cricket from 2021 to 2023 and reached the final of WTC again in 2023. This time, they faced the Pat Cummins-led Australia at the Oval. Ahead of the match, Australia were the favourites to have their hands on the distinguished mace due to English conditions which were more familiar to them.

However, India were required the top-notch services of captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the game to compete with the high-spirited Aussie side. At the toss, India skipper Rohit emerged victorious and chose to field first. Riding on Travis Head’s 163 and Steven Smith’s 121, Australia notched up 469 runs.

Following the total, Indian openers Rohit and Shubman Gill fell early. After the early dismissals, Kohli had to spend time in the middle and score big runs. However, Mitchell Starc stepped up in the huge encounter and bowled a bouncer to the India star batter and got rid of him on 14.

After the no-show in the first innings, the 34-year-old came to bat in the second innings. While following the massive total of 444, India were three down and eyes were set on Kohli again. This time, the veteran batter exuded confidence by playing some confident strokes. However, his innings came to an end on 49 after Scott Boland bowled him towards the off-stump and he attempted the delivery to play a cover drive but the ball went into the safe hands of Steven Smith, who was deployed at the second slip.

3. India versus Pakistan- 2017 Champions Trophy final 

Kohli holds an incredible batting record against Pakistan. The batting legend has played 14 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against the Men in Green, in which he has amassed 540 runs with two tons. Nowadays, every India-Pakistan game becomes bigger as both teams aren’t playing against each other in bilateral competitions for a long time.  

At the 2017 Champions Trophy, both sides clashed against each other twice. In the group match, India handed Sarfaraz Ahmed and his men a 124-run defeat and Kohli also took Pakistan’s bowling attack to the cleaners and accumulated 81 runs off just 68 deliveries.

In the final contest at the Oval, both sides met again but this time, Pakistan turned the tables with their comprehensive 180-run win. Following the disciplined show from batters, Pakistan bowlers were tasked to defend an enormous total of 338. Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s bowling spearhead, looked relentless against the Men in Blue and scalped the big wicket of Rohit Sharma on the third delivery of his spell.

With Rohit’s scalp, India were under immense pressure to keep themselves alive in the chase but Kohli’s presence on the crease was giving relief to fans. However, it was Amir, who got Kohli caught at the gully on five and helped his side have complete domination over India in the match. 

2. India versus Australia- 2015 World Cup 

In the 2015 World Cup, India were favourites to clinch the title along with the hosts Australia. The Men in Blue won their all matches in the group round and ended up as table toppers with 12 points. After playing incredible cricket for more than a month, MS Dhoni and his men qualified for the semi-final to contest against the Michael Clarke-led Australia.

Appearing in the huge game, Australian batters came heavily on bowlers and posted 328 runs after their 50 overs. Pursuing the massive target, India’s batters were required to showcase their extraordinary side to win the match. Expectations were high from top-order batters Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli to win the match.

Riding on a fine start from openers Dhawan and Rohit, India scored 76 runs before the end of 13 overs. Dhawan fell to Josh Hazlewood on 45 and now Kohli walked into the middle to face mighty Aussie bowlers. In the high-voltage game, the top-order batter fell to Mitchell Johnson on just one run after playing 13 deliveries. In the end, Kohli’s flop show cost India the knockout game by 95 runs. 

1. India versus New Zealand- 2019 World Cup

Virat Kohli looked confident as a skipper in the 2019 World Cup as he led the team to the semi-final. Along with captaincy, he flaunted his batting prowess as well in the competition, racking up 443 runs in nine matches, at a strike rate of 94.05. With these numbers, he ended up as the second-leading run-getter for India in the marquee event.

However, when his batting contribution was required the most, he failed to hold his nerves and disappointed his team’s fans. After the confident round-robin stage performance, India qualified for the semi-final against the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground.

In the knockout game, captain Kane Williamson and veteran Ross Taylor utilized their experience and produced effective knocks of 67 and 74 runs, respectively to help their side post 239 runs on the board. Following New Zealand’s innings, India were expected to win the contest easily as throughout the competition, they looked confident. 

Defending the average total successfully, the Kiwi bowlers displayed nerves of steel and bagged an 18-run win for their team. The assault on the Indian team started with Rohit Sharma’s departure on one in the second over. Kohli, the skipper of the side, was also sent back on one through LBW by the left-handed pacer Trent Boult, who was leading the Kiwi team’s fast-bowling unit.

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