Sunil Gavaskar, speaking on commentary during the third England-India Test, offered his opinion on how Virat Kohli can end his poor run of form, suggesting he give Sachin Tendulkar a call for advice.
Between them, the trio are arguably the three finest batsmen India have ever produced, but Kohli is struggling for form right now. His last Test hundred came in 2019, and he has passed fifty just three times in 18 innings in that time, with an average of 23.00.
With his rut becoming extended, many have offered their advice on how he can improve his fortunes. There are few more qualified to do so than Sunil Gavaskar, the first man to bring up the milestone of 10,000 Test runs, but his advice was that Kohli should call up another legend, the man who has made more Test runs and centuries than any other.
“He should give a quick call to SRT [Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar] and ask ‘What should I do?’” Gavaskar said.
Kohli’s struggles have echoed those on his 2014 tour of England, when he was worked over by James Anderson and edged behind time and again. In 2018, he overturned those issues sensationally, scoring two hundreds in the series and being named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year the following year. But Anderson has reclaimed the upper hand in 2021, dismissing him for a golden duck in his first innings of the series, and getting him again in the first innings of the third Test.
Gavaskar suggested that Kohli needed to follow Tendulkar’s lead and engage in self-denial to rediscover his best form. “That is a bit of a worry for me, because he is getting dismissed at the fifth, sixth and even seventh stump. In 2014, he was getting out more around the off-stump,” he said. “[He should] do what Sachin Tendulkar did at Sydney. Say to himself that I am not going to play the cover drive.”
The innings to which Gavaskar is referring is one of Tendulkar’s most famous. Against Australia in 2004, Tendulkar came into the New Year’s Test without a Test ton in 13 innings and more than a year. He chose to shelve his favoured shot, the cover drive, and went on to compile an epic 241 not out. He added an unbeaten 60 and 194 in his next two knocks for good measure.
India might need something similar if they are to rescue the third Test.