The Kohli effect: How crucial have Virat Kohli’s performances been for India in ICC knockout matches

The Kohli effect: How crucial have Virat Kohli’s performances been for India in ICC knockout matches

More often than not, when Virat Kohli has failed, it has proved to be detrimental for India in an ICC knockout match.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)

Numbers. In sport, they play a very crucial role, isn’t it?

Yes. The intangibles play an important role in elevating our sporting experience, but the numbers are what we seek refuge in, to define greatness. Sachin Tendulkar’s enchanting straight drive may have made us forget the melancholy of life and taken us to a realm of life that other sportsmen have never taken us to, but it is the numbers that he generated with his willow that play an important role in Tendulkar occupying the exalted pedestal that he does in the world of cricket even today.

24 years. 100 international hundreds, 34357 international runs, 200 Tests. We can keep going on and on about Tendulkar.

Similarly, a peach of an outswinger from James Anderson where the ball beats the outside edge, flummoxing the batsman might make for a surreal sporting experience. But, the fact that Anderson is the only fast bowler to have played over 150 Tests and the only pacer to have taken over 600 Test wickets makes him an all-time great.

Let us come to Virat Kohli now, and he is the main focal point of this article. We all know that Kohli possesses a cover drive that is matched by none in the modern era, and he oozes class out in the middle that can sometimes even bewitch the opposition. And, Kohli has already generated such surreal numbers that he can stake claim to being one of the greatest batsmen to have ever touched the willow.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Kohli is the fastest to 10000 runs in ODI cricket, he has already scored 7 Test double hundreds, he is just 7 centuries shy of overtaking Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of centuries in the ODI format, he averages above 50 in all three formats of the game, and has already piled up 70 international centuries.

But then, we will focus on a different set of numbers here. How has Kohli fared in a crunch situation for his country? And more importantly, how intertwined are India’s fortunes with that of Kohli’s in ICC knockout matches?

In this article, let us dissect Kohli’s numbers in every single knockout match that he has played in an ICC tournament in every single format of the game and try to understand how much of an impact Kohli’s performances have on the fortunes of the Indian cricket team.

Dissecting Virat Kohli’s numbers in ICC knockout matches

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

In his international career that has lasted almost 13 years, Kohli has played as many as 15 innings in ICC knockout matches across three different formats. In this section, let us dissect each score by Kohli in an ICC knockout match to draw conclusions.

We shall have two different tables. The first table will reflect Kohli’s performances in knockout matches till the 2013 Champions Trophy, and the second table will reflect all of Kohli’s performances after the 2013 Champions Trophy in knockout matches. We have divided it this way because India won all the five knockout matches that Kohli played till the final of the 2013 Champions Trophy. It was only after the 2013 Champions Trophy that an ICC trophy has eluded the Indian side, and the Indian cricket team has floundered WHEN IT MATTERS.

Let us get going with the first table then…

Tournament Name Knockout Match Stage Runs Scored by Kohli Opposition Result of the Match
2011 World Cup Quarter-Final 24(33) Australia WON
2011 World Cup Semi-Final 9(21) Pakistan WON
2011 World Cup Final 35(49) Sri Lanka WON
2013 Champions Trophy Semi-Final 58*(64) Sri Lanka WON
2013 Champions Trophy Final 43(34) England WON

Note: Virat Kohli also played the 2009 Champions Trophy as well as the 2012 T20 World Cup, but India did not qualify for the knockout stages of these two tournaments

Virat Kohli played 5 knockout matches till the final of the 2013 Champions Trophy. And, in each of those 5 matches, India emerged victorious. It is important to note here that Kohli scored above 20 in 4 of these 5 matches as India embarked on an excellent run till the 2013 Champions Trophy Final in knockout games. Even though Kohli’s 24 in the quarterfinal of the 2011 World Cup might not look like a significant score on paper, his 49-run stand with Gambhir played a crucial role in helping India beat the Aussies with 5 wickets to spare.

Kohli’s 35 in the 2011 World Cup final and his 83-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir helped India steady the ship after they lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early, and laid the foundation for MS Dhoni to launch a brutal assault.

His 58* against Sri Lanka in the 2013 Champions Trophy semifinal allowed the Indian side to trounce Sri Lanka with 8 wickets to spare. And, Kohli’s quickfire 43 in the Champions Trophy final helped India beat England by 5 runs.

Here we go then. India won the first 5 knockout matches that Kohli played, with Kohli scoring in excess of 20 in 4 of those matches.

India starts floundering when it matters: How has Virat Kohli fared?

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Let us now come to the second part, the part where India has floundered exactly when it matters and has not won a single ICC Trophy after their victory in the 2013 Champions Trophy final. And, let us analyze Kohli’s performances in each of these matches.

Tournament Name Knockout Match Runs Scored by Kohli Opposition Result of the Match
2014 T20 World Cup Semi-Final 72*(44) South Africa WON
2014 T20 World Cup Final 77(58) Sri Lanka LOST
2015 World Cup Quarter-Final 3(8) Bangladesh WON
2015 World Cup Semi-Final 1(13) Australia LOST
2016 T20 World Cup Semi-Final 89*(47) West Indies LOST
2017 Champions Trophy Semi-Final 96*(78) Bangladesh WON
2017 Champions Trophy Final 5(9) Pakistan LOST
2019 World Cup Semi-Final 1(6) New Zealand LOST
2021 World Test Championship Final 44 and 13 New Zealand LOST

After the 2013 Champions Trophy Final, India has played as many as 9 knockout matches and has lost 6 of them. Also, they have lost all the three summit clashes that they have played in this period. And, the table above gives us some interesting results.

From the above table, we can see that Kohli has recorded a score of less than 20 on five occasions in this period. And, India has lost 4 of those matches. The only match that India won despite Kohli scoring less than 20 (3 runs) was against Bangladesh in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final. And surely, irrespective of the format of the game, India always starts as favorites against Bangladesh.

In other words, Kohli’s non-performance in these crunch matches has definitely played a huge role in India’s poor performances in these knockout matches.

How vital have Virat Kohli’s contributions been for India?

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Let us do another thing. Let us now look at Kohli’s performances in all the knockout matches he has played in an ICC tournament in a condensed form. Let us analyze what happened to the result of the match when Kohli scored more than 20 in an ICC knockout match, and what has happened when Kohli has scored less than 20. The two tables below will reflect the same.

Number of 20+ scores by Kohli in ICC Knockout events How many times did India Win Success rate
9 6 67%

Virat Kohli has recorded a score of more than 20 nine times in ICC knockout matches. And, India has won 6 of those matches, which means that 67% of the time when Kohli scores above 20 in an ICC knockout match, India wins.

Now, let us proceed to the next table and analyze what has transpired when Kohli has recorded a score of below 20.

Number of less than 20 scores by Kohli in ICC Knockout events How many times did India Win Success rate
6 2 33%

When Kohli has failed to perform in an ICC knockout match, it has had adverse effects on the fortunes of the Indian side. Kohli has recorded 6 scores of less than 20 in ICC knockout matches, and India has lost 4 of those. And, this means that when Kohli scores less than 20, the success rate of the Indian side has come down to just 33%.

In Conclusion: The Kohli Effect

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)

From the above analysis, the Kohli effect is clear. It has been proven that India’s fortunes are intertwined with that of Kohli’s performances with the bat. More often than not, when Kohli has failed, it has resulted in a detrimental result for India. Kohli is and will continue to be an integral part of the Indian side till he walks away into the sunset in every single format of the game, and there are no two ways about it.

And, Virat Kohli will still get more chances to prove his worth in ICC knockout events, and his next chance will come knocking on his door, as early as October 2021, when the T20 World Cup comes calling. And surely, India’s fortunes will depend largely upon how the master batsman fares with the willow.

Can Kohli put an end to India’s ICC trophy drought? Well, the end of 2021 will give us a lot of answers.

Note: All the stats have been taken from Cricinfo and Howstat Cricket and have been updated as on 1st July 2021