Sanjay Manjrekar explains Virat Kohli's struggle vs spin
Misjudging the length of the delivery, failing to reach to the pitch of it has been a key reason behind Virat Kohli's persistent downfall against spin in Test match cricket, said former India cricketer turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar.
Having followed the great batter undergo a major decline in his consistency and decision-making at the crease against the tweakers, Manjrekar pointed out a chink in his armoury, wherein he has tended to play with his hands a lot more without truly getting to the ball with some clear and precise usage of his feet.
The numbers tell a sad tale of Virat Kohli's current state against spin, as he averages 25.8 versus all kinds of tweakers since 2020. His overall average, too, for what has been a period of sustained decline stands at a poor-looking 26.20.
With Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon posing a major threat to him for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the obvious question is can Kohli overcome his spin struggles and rejuvenate himself against India's biggest Test match rivals?
Manjrekar opines on Kohli's spin struggles
"I re-take the last dismissal in a Test match for Virat Kohli in Bangladesh against Mehidy Hasan, the ball was about short of good length, Virat Kohli was full stretched forward but the ball was still about maybe three feet from him where it pitched, it hit his glove and he got caught back-pad," Manjrekar recalled a recent instance to stress home his point during a pre-series show for ESPNcricinfo.
"That is a thing I have seen with Virat Kohli. Despite his greatness, and he has always been a wonderful player of spin, but of late because of the form he has been in and the pressure he has carried, a very simple observation I have had with Virat Kohli is his judgement against spin (has been poor)."
Manjrekar said there is still a bit of a luxury to misjudge the length against a pacer since a batter like Kohli would still have time to adjust with the pace off the surface but playing spin commands basic and precise movement of feet depending on the length.
"You can maybe get away from judging the length of a fast-bowler, (but) with spinners if you don't judge the length well.. and it's a paramount thing I discovered very early in my career: when the ball leaves the bowler's hands, (as a batter) is this a ball I can get under my bat onto the frontfoot? If not, I am going to play that ball off the backfoot."
"That judgement I feel with Virat Kohli has gone haywire and that I have found is one big reason. Mentally, he is one of the toughest guys and we're taking one of the great Indian batters. But if he can just work that aspect out, and I don't know if he is aware, but just watching him bat, I don't think he is judging the length as well," he added.