The legendary Kapil Dev, who lifted Indian cricket to unprecedented heights by winning the country its first Cricket World Cup in 1983, feels that Virat Kohli has reached a stage in his career where he can get vulnerable as a batsman, but if the current captain of the Indian cricket team makes necessary adjustments with age, there is no reason why Kohli cannot become the most dangerous batsman in the world.
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In conversation with senior sports writer and journalist Ayaz Memon on Day 2 of the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Kapil explained that one of the many challenges Kohli, 32, will have to deal with is his eyesight, which the former World Cup winning captain reckons gets weaker with age, and given Kohli’s fascination towards playing strokes on the leg-side promises to put him at more risk of getting out.
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“If you look at Kohli and Smith, they’re in the same boat, because they’ve reached an age Smith where the eyesight starts dropping. They both like to play across the legs and both can be candidates for an LBW. From 28 to 34, you are the best but you have to adjust your eyesight,” Kapil said.
Presenting examples of Indian greats Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid, Kapil pointed out the impact of a weakening eyesight. Sehwag, one of India’s most destructive batsmen and arguably the greatest opening Test batsman produced along with Sunil Gavaskar, holds the record for being the only Indian cricketer with two triple centuries, but runs eluded him once his eyesight got weaker with time. Meanwhile, Dravid, believed to be India’s greatest No. 3 batsman of all time, endured similar batting frailty when he repeatedly got bowled between bat and pad in his last series.
“What happened to Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid? What happened to so many great cricketers? Once the eyes get weak, if they don’t correct themselves technically, they will get out a lot more frequently. Where [Kane] Williamson and [Joe] Root look compact is that they don’t play so much across,” Kapil added.
Kapil reckons the coming period is crucial for Kohli, saying if the India captain can cut down playing too many shots on the leg-side and starts playing more in the V, Kohli, already one of the best batsmen in the world, can become the most dangerous of the lot.
“If Kohli can handle himself for six months by playing the ball straight ‘I don’t have to flick the ball from the off-side,’ which is his favourite shot too. Then he will look more dangerous than any other player. His eyesight is not always going to be of an 18-year-old. So he will have to adjust himself,” Kapil said.
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