Statistical Analysis: Here's why Virat Kohli should continue to be crucial part of India's T20I team

Statistical Analysis: Here’s why Virat Kohli should continue to be crucial part of India’s T20I team

Kohli is no more India’s T20I captain as the T20 World Cup 2021 was his last leadership assignment in the format.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

It was 2016 and Virat Kohli was enjoying a Bradmanesque in T20s, the format where being consistent takes a lot of beating. While he was named the Player-of-the Tournament in that year’s T20 World Cup, he notched up a record 973 runs in the following Indian Premier League (IPL) season including four centuries. While Kohli’s stellar show left fans and experts jaw-dropped back then, five years later, there’s debate over his place in the T20I side.

Kohli is no more India’s T20I captain as the T20 World Cup 2021 was his last leadership assignment in the format. While the batter maintained that he would continue to contribute as batter, a section of cricket lovers believe the batter shouldn’t be in India’s T20I XI for the upcoming assignments.

Well, they do say cricket is a funny game where you never know what happens. However, this debate has to be the mother of ironies as the eighth-ranked T20I batter is being questioned over his skills and ability to thrive in this format. Now, the first question is why eyebrows have been raised over Kohli’s prowess. His

Is the talismanic batter not keeping up with the needs of T20I format? Has Kohli not evolved with time? Or it’s the developed obsession of fans with big hits that has raised this question. Now, one thing is pretty certain that Kohli can’t hit mammoth sixes like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Jos Buttler on regular basis. However, all you need is to clear the ropes to maximum runs. The emergence of several young talents in the Indian camp can be another reason that inspired this debate.

Meanwhile, Kohli, who emphasizes more on timing than power, shouldn’t be questioned about how far he sends the ball. What one can really question is at what strike rate Kohli scores runs in the shortest international format.  As per the official records, the 33-year-old slams 137.91 runs per 100 balls in T20 internationals. This strike rate is better than that of Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard and even the dashing Chris Gayle.

One belief that has been doing rounds is that Kohli’s T20I form is not the same that he showcased in the T20 World Cup in 2016. If someone suggests so, the batter’s strike rate has been 140.85 in this version after that year’s gala tournament. In fact, his overall T20I record is a dream for numerous batters.

Virat Kohli in T20Is

Matches Runs Highest Average Strike Rate 100/50
94 3227 94 52.05 137.91 0/29

He has also maintained an average of over 46 after the 2016 World Cup. In fact, among batters who have scored at least 1000 T20I runs after the 2016 event, Kohli is one of only three to have, and average and strike rate over 40 and 140 respectively. Jos Buttler and KL Rahul are the other two.

40-plus average and 140-plus strike rate in T20Is since the 2016 World Cup (Min. 1000 runs)

Players Matches Runs Highest Average Strike Rate 100/50
KL Rahul 56 1831 110* 40.68 142.49 2/16
Jos Buttler 40 1301 101* 43.36 141.72 1/11
Virat Kohli 52 1586 94* 46.64 140.85 0/13

While Kohli has been phenomenal in national jersey, his performance in the Indian Premier League (IPL) hasn’t been sensational in the previous two seasons. Although Kohli slammed 466 and 405 runs in the 2020 and 2021 season, his strike rates were 119.46 and 121.35.

Virat Kohli in last two IPL seasons

Season Matches Runs Highest Average Strike Rate 100/50
2021 15 405 72* 28.92 119.46 0/3
2020 15 466 90* 42.36 121.35 0/3

However, would it be fair to determine Kohli’s place in India’s T20I team based on his IPL performance. After all, he has been impressive every time he went out in national colours. Speaking of T20Is since the start of 2019, Kohli is the fifth-leading run-scorer. He has maintained an average and strike rate of over 40 and 140 in this period.

Highest run-scorers in T20Is since 2019

Players Matches Runs Highest Average Strike Rate 100/50
Babar Azam 44 1503 122 41.75 132.07 1/16
Paul Stirling 40 1389 115* 38.58 136.17 1/11
Mohammad Rizwan 42 1330 104* 57.82 128.5 1/11
Kevin O’Brien 43 1198 124 27.86 140.61 1/5
Virat Kohli 30 1060 94* 58.88 141.71 0/10

Conclusion:

These numbers clearly suggest Kohli’s ouster from the T20I team would be a great loss for the Men in Blue. Yes, the emergence of youngsters like Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan has put the team management in a problem of plenty. However, Kohli’s axing isn’t something which should be done to add firepower in the batting line-up.

Notably, the 2022 edition of the T20 World Cup would be played on Australian soil where batters would need to showcase application to get runs. Hence, Kohli, despite not being the captain, would come in handy. Not to forget, he has won the Player-of-the-Tournament award in T20 World Cups twice.