Opinion: Drop Kohli, he's not irreplaceable

The Indian selectors have to be more firm when it comes to senior players in the national squad underpeforming during a series. As of right now, they seem scared and hesitant to make changes, writes Bimal Mirwani.

The Indian selectors have to be more firm when it comes to senior players in the national squad underpeforming during a series. As of right now, they seem scared and hesitant to make changes when some of the more popular players within the team are failing to have an impact.

One such member who fits right into this category is batsman Virat Kohli. During the ongoing five-Test series against England, Kohli has really struggled with the bat and dropped numerous catches as well.

People will be saying that he is just having a bad series, but even prodigies like Kohli have to, from time to time, be reminded that they are not irreplaceable.

In the four Tests that have been played thus far, Kohli has only scored 108 runs at a disappointing average of 13.50. It should also be noted that he has failed to score a half-century during this series as his highest score is 39.

The national selectors need to seriously consider dropping Kohli for the fifth Test at The Oval, since he has not really contributed with the bat and in the field as well.

The selectors did not hesitate to drop opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan after he failed to perform in the first three Tests and it's time the same thing happened to Kohli.

I have nothing but respect for Kohli. But, when players, even if they be star players, are not scoring runs after a number of Tests, it is time to give them a rest and get a fresh face in the squad.

Kohli would benefit by spending more time in the nets. If you look at Kohli's dismissals throughout the series, he has been caught behind or caught at slip in six out of his eight innings. It is clear that he is definitely having some problems outside the off-stump.

It also seems that he is driving too hard at many deliveries outside the off-stump, which is resulting in him being caught behind or in the slip cordon. Another technical flaw is his foot movement. Kohli is renowned for using his feet to get to the pitch of the ball. However, for some reason, that has not been the case during this series.

It is unclear whether nerves have got the better of Kohli or if he is just having a long stretch of bad luck. But, whatever the case, Kohli has to do something fast because if his batting continues to go downhill, then we may not hear his name for a long time.

If Kohli is dropped, there are two candidates who can take his place. Firstly, we have Rohit Sharma, who played against England in the third Test in Southampton. Even though he only scored 28 and 6, it was only one match. It is a bit harsh to judge someone after only one Test match in conditions that they are not accustomed to.

The second candidate, which is who I believe should be picked, is uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha. The 31-year-old was absolutely unstoppable during India A's recent tour to Australia.

In the two four-day matches he played against Australia A, Ojha recorded scores of 219 not out, 101 not out and 110 to finish with a grand total of 430 runs and an average of 430 as well. That is definitely one impressive display of batting and more than enough proof to show that he is ready to make his Test debut.

It is unfair for players like Ojha, who have worked so hard to be included in the Test squad, to be continuously snubbed because of Kohli's star-studded reputation. Some competition is exactly what Kohli needs to rouse him from his dormant state and get him back to being the fiery and aggressive player that the cricketing world has come to respect so highly.

<b>Bimal Mirwani</b>