1. Struggles in ODIs - 2019-20
In the third ODI against New Zealand here on Tuesday (February 11), Kohli got out for 9. And there was that hint of desperation when he came out and smashed Tim Southee for a six over mid-wicket. On normal days, you will hardly see Kohli playing an aerial shot at the start of his innings as cutting down risks is his mantra. Or it could just be an effort to stamp authority over Southee, who had castled him in the second ODI at Auckland. But it was the 9th straight game Kohli, who now has 43 ODI tons, did not cross the 100-run mark.
But Kohli has four 50s in this period in ODIs - 85 vs West Indies at Cuttack, 78 vs Australia at Rajkot and 89 vs Australia at Bengaluru and 51 against New Zealand at Hamilton. And on each of those occasions Kohli had a chance to convert them into centuries. Kohli's last hundred came against Windies at Port of Spain in August 2019, an unbeaten 114. In fact, he made two successive hundreds then, 114 following a 120 at Port of Spain. It may not be a concern as of now and the numbers even appear alright in isolation but in Kohli's world they have an anaemic look.
2. Struggles in ODIs - 2019
This is not the first time, however, Kohli is going through a phase where centuries looked hard to come by in ODIs. Kohli had begun the 2019 on a bright note, making a 104 against Australia at Adelaide. In the next five matches, Kohli made 46, 45, 43, 60 and 44 against the Aussies and New Zealand before notching up twin hundreds against Australia at Nagpur and Ranchi - 116 and 123 respectively. The year was poised to be a searing one for Kohli.
But inexplicably, Kohli slipped into a period where he got out after 50 especially in the World Cup held in England. In the quadrennial mega show, Kohli made 82, 77, 67, 72 and 66 in five consecutive matches and it was a record. Once again, not bad numbers but in Kohli's world they lacked the shine. And Rohit Sharma hogged all the limelight cracking record-setting five hundreds in the tournament. Those fifties followed an unbeaten 34 and 1 in the World Cup before he hammered those twin tons at Port of Spain against the Windies. But once again Kohli slipped over the edge and does not have a hundred in the next 9 matches.
3. What is ahead for Kohli
This is the year of ICC T20 World Cup, scheduled in Australia in October this year, and the accent is firmly on the tournament in which India have not tasted much success except a title win in 2007. Kohli too will be eager to add an elusive ICC trophy to the cabinet. But in between he has a few ODIs to worry about like at home against South Africa, the IPL 2020 for Royal Challengers Bangalore and possibly against Sri Lanka and Australia towards mid-year ahead of the T20 World Cup. In fact, Kohli has not made a T20 hundred yet and he would be eager to break the mark this year.
4. Rohit Sharma comparison - 2019-2020
In contrast, Rohit Sharma had a roaring year in ODIs. He began 2019 with a 133 against Australia at Sydney. But the opener went off the boil after that hundred as his next 12 innings produced only four fifties and just as people began to whisper about it, Rohit hit five hundreds in the 50-over World Cup and there was no looking back. He made another two hundreds and a fifty in the next 9 innings before getting ruled out of the ODIs against NZ with an injury.