When the action was about to commence after the tea break, the cameras panned to the boundary ropes. Virat Kohli was looking on, there seemed to be an expression which meant business. It has not been an entirely fruitful tour for the skipper, and now, the stage was set for him to march out, take guard, look the opposition in the eye and stamp his authority. He marched out, he took guard, he looked the opposition in the eye but did not stamp his authority. The start was jittery - a loose drive through covers, en edge through the vacant gully position and Kohli was stuttering around with unease.
He then settled down, there was an extravagant front stride and an exaggerated leave - New Zealand kept bowling it wide outside the off stump, Kohli kept wafting his bat away. This is when they changed tactics and resorted to short-pitched stuff. Never the one to back away from a challenge, Kohli was prepared to duck and weave out of the way. Jamieson and Southee came from around the wicket, banged the ball in short and Kohli sat down under it. Trent Boult charged in from around the wicket and banged the ball in - Kohli swayed out of the way, Boult kept pestering and eventually, the batsman blinked. He attempted to hook the ball as it was coming in with the angle, but the ball bounced more, took the edge and went through to BJ Watling. The skipper had to trudge off for 19 and his bleak returns on this tour continued.
Virat Kohli on this New Zealand tour:
T20Is - 45, 11, 38, 11
ODIs - 51, 15, 9
Tests - 2, 19
He has managed to score 201 runs across the nine innings with only a solitary 50.
He was the star when India visited England in 2018 - he smashed 593 runs during India's series defeat in England. However, ever since that tour, he has been struggling in overseas conditions.
His 123 in Perth 2018 still remains his best effort in away Tests in the last 2 years - in the 7 Tests since the England tour, the Indian captain has scored 439 runs at an average of 33 which includes one hundred and 3 fifties.
It has been an extended lean patch for the right-hander. Factor this - after his 136 vs Bangladesh in November 2019, Kohli has not notched up a century in 20 international innings on the trot. This is his worst run of form since the horrid 2014 tour to England.
Irrespective of how this match pans out, there are concerns over Virat Kohli's form, especially in the longest format. 'Kohli has to show more discipline and patience, like the way he showed after a shaky start. For a batsman who is low on scores wants to attack, but New Zealand did not give anything to Kohli to score. When the short ball waa bowled, it was on his body and when the length ball was offered, it was on a perfect length on off stump,' former Indian batsman VVS Laxman said on Kohli.
"Virat was pushed to play outside the off stump, even in this innings he was forced to play lavish drives outside the off stump, not something you associate with Kohli," he further added.