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5 out of form cricketers who got Virat Kohli’s backing

Kohli backs his players to the hilt and hopes for them to deliver.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been over two and a half years since Virat Kohli became the captain of the Indian cricket team across all formats. However, it was in January 2015 that he took over the mantle of the Test team after the sudden retirement of MS Dhoni. India have had some really good success under the Delhi lad across all three formats.

In Test cricket, India have won 26 out of the 46 Test matches that Kohli has led (10 losses and 10 draws). Meanwhile, his record in ODI cricket is even better.  He has a win percentage of 74.63 in the 70 games (until World Cup game against Australia) while being at the helm. However, his worst record among the three formats is in T20Is (12 wins, 9 losses).

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Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of captains back certain players. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid did that with a few of them, MS Dhoni did that too and Kohli is following the trend as well. There have been quite a few players whom Kohli has backed in the last few years and has got good results. But there are a few who he’s backed despite them not being in the best of forms.

Here we bring you five out of form cricketers who got Kohli’s backing:

1. KL Rahul (Tests)

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

KL Rahul made his debut a Test match before Virat Kohli got the Test captaincy. It was the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne that Rahul got his maiden Test cap. He batted at No. 6 in that game which eventually proved to be MS Dhoni’s last in Test cricket.

Despite falling for low scores in both innings (for poor strokes), Rahul was picked for the next Test with Kohli as captain. He was sent out to open the batting with Shikhar Dhawan facing the axe. The Karnataka lad responded well and struck a fine hundred. However, since then, he’s got Kohli’s backing, especially in Test cricket.

Rahul was pretty inconsistent at the start of his career as he was an all or nothing sort of a player. One he got in, he made it count else it was a low score. However, he turned it around by scoring a string of fifties in the home season in 2016-17.

But once India started touring away, his problems started. Despite not getting substantial scores, Rahul was backed through the tours of South Africa, England and Australia. He played 10 Test matches and all he could muster was one hundred and no other scores over 50. He was dropped for an odd game here and there but among the Indian openers, Rahul played the most number of Test matches in this overseas cycle.

2. Rohit Sharma (Tests)

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Ever since Rohit Sharma started opening the batting in white-ball cricket, he hasn’t looked back. He may have turned into a consistent and reliable limited-overs cricketer. However, he still hasn’t really found his feet in Test cricket.

Rohit Sharma made his Test debut in November 2013 and from then on, he did get a few opportunities in the middle-order as India toured South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia. He was in and out of the team due to his inconsistency. However, once Virat Kohli became the Test captain, a lot more opportunities came his way.

In Kohli’s first game as full-time captain (Sydney 2015), Rohit was given the opportunity to bat at No. 3. That experiment continued for quite a bit before constant failures meant the Mumbaikar had to sit out. Despite not scoring a lot of runs, he was picked for the Windies tour in 2016 and the subsequent series against New Zealand at home. He fared decently, scoring three half-centuries in five games before an injury ruled him out of the entire season.

Rohit was back again for the home series against Sri Lanka and then the subsequent tour of South Africa where he failed once again. He was dropped for the England tour before returning for the tour down under where he played a couple of Test matches. Hence, time and again, despite being found out in whites, Kohli has backed Rohit to the fullest. Repeatedly, the right-handed Mumbai batsman has made a comeback in the Test team and would love to seal his position now.

3. Yuvraj Singh (ODIs)

Yuvraj Singh News
Yuvraj Singh. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

It is no secret that Yuvraj Singh has enjoyed a decent amount of backing under Virat Kohli. Right from the time when he became the captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), he wanted Yuvraj Singh in the team. In 2014, RCB broke the bank to get the services of the Punjab southpaw.

However, after a slump, Yuvraj found himself not only out of the RCB side but also the Indian team. However, he fought his way back in ODI side in early 2017. Yuvraj struck his career-best score (150 against England) in just his second game after making a comeback. However, apart from that, he never really fired.

He was picked for the Champions Trophy as well later that year. Barring the first game against Pakistan in which he scored 53, there was hardly any contribution from the left-hander. Moreover, his fitness wasn’t at its best as well. He became a liability in the field as well. However, he still continued to hold his spot and it was only in the West Indies after he played three ODIs in that series that he was dropped.

4. MS Dhoni (T20Is)

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

There is absolutely no doubt that MS Dhoni will go down as one of the best white-ball players India has ever produced. He is arguably one of the best finishers in the history of the game.

However, in the last couple of years, the former Indian skipper has struggled especially in the shortest format of the game. Dhoni has been criticised for his style of play and his inconsistency in T20Is. However, he continued to play and Kohli continued to back him.

He was not picked for six T20Is towards the end of 2018. He missed the three-match series against the Windies at home and Australia overseas. The selectors mentioned that Dhoni was rested and they wanted to assess other wicket-keepers but it certainly looked like the former skipper was dropped due to poor form.

Dhoni returned to the T20I side in early 2019 and played in all five T20I games that India has played this year. 2018 was the worst year for Dhoni in ODI cricket and despite that, he was constantly backed by Kohli.

5. Umesh Yadav (ODIs and Tests)

Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ever since he made his international debut in 2011, Umesh Yadav has been all about pace. It was something that India yarned for quite sometime before his arrival. However, the consistency and accuracy have been a big problem for the Vidarbha pacer.

He has blown hot and cold over the years and yet, he’s got the backing of skipper Virat Kohli. Until 2015, Yadav was in and out of the side. But once Kohli got the Test captaincy, Yadav was constantly backed. He was excellent at home but when India needed him to deliver overseas, he failed. In helpful conditions, the Vidarbha fast bowler was under-par and it did hurt India quite a bit.

Even in ODI cricket, Kohli and India have constantly gone back to Yadav in search for the third seamer. Until Mohammad Shami’s return, Yadav was in and out of the ODI squad as well. However, he failed to deliver and live up to the expectations.

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