Virat Kohli. Credit: Reuters Photo
Virat Kohli. Credit: Reuters Photo

Mahela Jayawardene, the former Sri Lanka captain believes Virat Kohli has the capability to lift himself out of the current rut he finds himself in. The 33-year-old has had a miserable 2022 so far across all formats and is desperate for some runs under his belt with the all-important 2022 T20I World Cup coming up.

The ace batter has been included in the squad for the 2022 Asia Cup that begins on August 24. He was not part of the side that toured the Caribbean recently and is also absent from the squad that will face Zimbabwe in a three-match ODI series from August 18 (Thursday).

Virat Kohli | Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli | Photo Credit: AP

Mahela Jayawardene: Virat Kohli Has The Tools To Come Out Of Form Slump

Virat Kohli’s last international ton had come in 2019 in a Test against Bangladesh and after that, the three-figure mark has eluded him. The batter had failed to get going in the Edgbaston Test and then the T20Is against England.

Virat Kohli scored only 11 and 20 in the rescheduled 5th Test against England. His poor form continued in T20Is too as he failed to make a mark on his comeback. The batting superstar was out for just 1 off 3 balls in the 2nd T20I and scored 11 off 6 balls in the 3rd T20I before a minor groin strain ruled him out of the 1st ODI. He scored 16 in the 2nd ODI and 17 in the 3rd ODI.

Citing that form is temporary while class is permanent, Mahela Jayawardene said in the latest edition of the ICC Review: “It is unfortunate what Virat is going through right now at the moment, but he is a quality player. I believe Virat has the tools to come out of it (the form slump). He has done that in the past as well and I’m sure he’ll come through this. Class is permanent and form is temporary.”

Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene (Photo| Mumbai Indians website)
Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene (Photo| Mumbai Indians website)

Virat Kohli was last seen during the tour of England, where he could only amass 76 runs in six innings. The former India captain also had a poor home season as well as a forgettable Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign earlier this year.

Before the tour of England, the talismanic run-scorer had a forgettable time in IPL 2022 as well. Representing the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), he scored 341 runs in 16 matches at an average of 22.73. He registered three golden ducks during the edition.

Mahela Jayawardene: KL Rahul’s Lack Of Cricket A Concern

In the prolonged absence of KL Rahul, mainly due to injury, the management has tested several opening combinations over the course of the past few bilateral series. The likes of Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, and Shreyas Iyer have all availed the chance to open the innings for India.

Opining that Pant provides a left-handed option for India at the top of the order, Mahela Jayawardene said: “Even though he (Pant) hasn’t done that (open the batting) much in domestic cricket, he has the capacity to do that. Wherever he bats, you’re not going to change his game. He is going to be a very natural player so yes, it is an option (for Pant to open).”

KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: Twitter)
KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The young wicket-keeper batter has opened the innings on two occasions for the Men in Blue. He has scored 27 runs with a strike rate of 135 while facing the new ball. Team India’s first-choice opener alongside Rohit Sharma is touted to be KL Rahul. However, the 30-year-old is yet to play a single T20I in 2022 so far, raising questions about his rhythm and form.

Admitting that KL Rahul’s lack of cricket will be a concern for the team heading into the World Cup, Mahela Jayawardene said: “That (Rahul’s lack of cricket) would be a concern for India. He has been out for a little while since the IPL, so having game time is quite crucial especially out there in the middle.”

Mahela Jayawardene concluded: “The sooner he can get some game time and get that confidence back, is always going to help him, as well as the national team.”

KL Rahul will have to prove his fitness as he will undergo a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) Bangalore before heading for the Asia Cup 2022 which begins later this month in the UAE. He has been out of the cricketing action since the completion of the Tata IPL 2022 due to injuries and Covid-19.