Asia Cup 2022 is around the corner and all eyes are on Virat Kohli. It would be intriguing to observe how the right-handed batsman fares in the main event, particularly against Pakistan on August 28 in Dubai. He was rested for the series against the West Indies and Zimbabwe. Prior to the competition, former Team India head coach Ravi Shastri described Virat as a “machine” whose zeal and devotion to the sport remain unwavering. “It is important when we talk about rest and all that, later on, you realize when you are back in the media, a lot of people come out with stats. One such stat came up during the Test against England, and it shocked me really. It said during the last three years when you look at the top players in the world, Williamson, Babar, Kohli, Joe Root, David Warner – Virat had played three times the number of games as everyone else across all cricket. It shocked me, where he was at about 950 games and the next was at 400, less than half. When you are the captain of a side, playing all three formats, it takes a toll. That’s why the break might just come around and do wonders,” said Shastri in a virtual interaction organized by Star Sports Network.
“There has been no Indian cricketer fitter than him, and I say it with experience. Nobody works harder and is fitter at his age than he is. He is a machine; it is just the case of him getting his mind right and being in the right frame of mind to approach games like this. We have often heard that 1-2 innings can make a difference, but with a player like him, it can make a massive difference, one inning, because he has got the fitness and physical strength. The performance will get the mental strength back, and the hunger and passion remain undiminished. Let me assure you that, he is hungry and passionate. He would have learned from this patch he has gone through. All players do, when you are on the rise, right at the pinnacle of your career and a slump brings you right down. Then it is your character that helps you get up and fight again. He has all those qualities,” he further stated. When asked whether he has had any word with Virat of late, Shastri said: “No, I haven’t spoken to him but it is not rocket science. The big players wake up, they wake up in due course. The mental fatigue could creep in, it can happen to the best players. I am sure this downtime is not just for the body, it is time to reflect on what things he could have done better, what things he could have done right, and what things he did right, and should keep focusing on that. What things he allowed to creep in his mind that was not required at all.”
“All these things come into play; you will then get an opportunity to decide what is the best course of action to get out onto the park again. Whether it is shot selection, how you plan, when to shift gears in a T20 game, should I give myself more time or not, all these things come into play, and now is the time for him to execute those plans with a calmer mind, you will come back with a much calmer mind. The heat is away, you were away. He gets a fifty in the first game, mouths will be shut. What has happened in the past is history, remember public memory is very short. It works both ways,” he added. Virat had last scored an international ton in 2019 and since then, the three-figure mark has eluded him. This year, Virat has looked completely out of touch, especially in the white-ball formats.