Batting great Virat Kohli's poor form in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 continued. The former Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) got out for a first-ball duck in their match against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) on Tuesday.
The match at DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai marked Virat Kohli's 100th competitive match without a hundred. In this period, the former India captain has played 17 Tests, 21 ODIs, 25 T20Is and 37 T20s in the IPL, without reaching the three-figure individual score.
In IPL 2022, he has so far scored 119 runs at an average of 19.83 with the highest score of 48, against Mumbai Indians. He though started the IPL 15 with an unbeaten 41 against Punjab Kings, and many thought the 33-year-old was back to his best. But what followed were scores of 12, 5, 48, 1, 12 and 0.
And the reason is excessive cricket, feels Ravi Shastri. The former India captain said Kohli is mentally "overcooked" and he needs to take a break from cricket.
Shastri, who had formed a successful coach-captain partnership with Kohli at the helm of Indian cricket, told Star Sports:
"I am going straight to the main guy here. Virat Kohli is overcooked. If anyone needs a break, it's him," a freewheeling Shastri said.
"Whether it's two months or a month-and-a-half, whether it's after England or before England. He needs a break because he has got six-seven years of cricket left in him and you don't want to lose that with a fried brain."
Shastri also warned the powers that be in the Indian cricket that there is "a very thin line" -- from a player giving his best to losing the "plot" altogether. And Kohli's case could be the best example.
"When I was coach at the time when this first started, the first thing I said is 'you have to show empathy to the guys'," a straight-shooting Shastri continued. "If you're going to be forceful, there is a very thin line there, from a guy losing the plot as opposed to him hanging in there and giving his best. So you have to be extremely careful."
Former England captain Kevin Pietersen agreed. And he advised Kohli to take time away from the game as well as social media.
"...the guy has had so much to deal with, from marriage to baby to media scrutiny and all on his personal life. He is the biggest star on show," Pietersen empathised.
It's worth noting that Kohli, being arguably the highest-profile cricketer in the world, constantly remains in the social media crosshairs. His every move is thoroughly scrutinised and trigger happy trolls didn't even spare his young family.
"Virat Kohli needs to say 'cricket boots, for six months, I will see you later'. Turn off social media, go and get re-energised," Pietersen added.
Kohli had stepped down from T20 captaincy both for India and RCB. Then Indian cricket board (BCCI) then removed him from the ODI skipper's role in controversial circumstances. He later quit the Test captaincy too.
"When the stadiums are full again, you guarantee him a spot in that side for the next 12, 24 or 36 months. Tell him 'you're our guy, we know you'll deliver for us'."
But "now as his brain is completely fried," it will be very difficult for Kohli to deliver," Pietersen echoed Shastri.
For the record, Kohli remains the only batter to score four centuries in a single edition of IPL in 2016.
Besides, he also has 70 international centuries, only behind Sachin Tendulkar (100) and Ricky Ponting (70). Among the active players, David Warner is the closest to Kohli's mark. The Australia opener has 43 tons. Rohit Sharma, Kohli's successor as India captain, has 41.
Kohli will be seen in action on Saturday (April 23), when RCB take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in match 36 of IPL 2022.
RCB moved to the second spot in IPL points with their 18-run win against Lucknow Super Giants on Tuesday. Faf du Plessis & Co have won five of their seven matches so far. The top four teams after the league stage qualify for the play-offs.