Virat’s cover drive: ‘His strength is also his weakness’

For 10th successive overseas Test innings, Virat Kohli got out, chasing deliveries outside off stump. After the day’s play, India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour suggested that the skipper needed to be more judicious in terms of picking the balls.

If Lungi Ngidi had induced Kohli to play away from his body in the first innings, this time it was the rookie pacer Marco Jansen who got him. On both occasions, Kohli had played himself in and was looking to be in control. For two years on the spin, India’s best batsman failed to score a Test hundred. If the pandemic-hit 2020 had very little long-form cricket, Kohli played 11 Tests in 2021.

The cover drive has been his signature shot and Rathour backed the captain to continue with it. “This is the shot that brings him lots of runs, this is his scoring shot. So, he needs to play that shot and I think it’s always your strength that turns out to be your weakness as well. When to play that shot, that’s the part there are constant discussions; was it the right ball, was it the right stage to play that shot. If we can tighten up our gameplans just a little more, that will be better,” Rathour said at the post-day press conference.

In 2003-2004, during his 241 against Australia in Sydney, Sachin Tendulkar completely shunned the cover drive and drove towards mid-off instead to cancel out caught-behind and slip cordon. But Rathour backed Kohli to play the shot, while suggesting caution. “That’s the shot he plays well. That’s the shot he scores loads of runs. So he has to carry on playing that shot. But he needs to pick maybe better balls at times.”

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