Indian skipper Virat Kohli hasn't been at his usual best for quite some time. His last international ton came in November 2019 and, since then, the 32-year-old has had some reasonable success in white-ball cricket but consistency, or a big score, has eluded him.
However, former BCCI chairman of selectors MSK Prasad believes that "it's just a matter of time before Kohli breaks the jinx".
So far, Kohli has scored 218 runs in seven innings, averaging 31.14. His scores in the ongoing series are: 0, DNB, 42, 20, 7, 55, 50, 44.
"Why do you say that he (Kohli) is struggling? I mean he is not converting it into hundreds… that all we all know and it's really strange and unfortunate. But once he cuts loose and breaks that jinx and starts getting hundreds, again he will be the superstar that we all know in the last decade or so. He is someone who has got 70 centuries (27 in Test cricket and 43 in One Day Internationals)," MSK Prasad told IANS.
"It's is unfortunate that his fifties and sixties are not being converted into hundreds. But he is still getting runs."
Asked about his views on vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane's form, MSK Prasad said, "It is a little disappointing, but we all trust him."
Rahane has aggregated 109 across seven innings in this series so far with a solitary half-century. Since the start of 2020, Rahane is averaging 24.76 in Tests, which is the lowest among the 34 international players with 500-plus runs. In this period, he has lodged just one century, alongside two fifties, in 27 innings.
"Yeah, it is really unfortunate that the consistency factor is missing in Rahane. It is tough but right now when we are playing such an important series away, I think people like Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahane are key in the middle order and any decision that has to be taken, has to be taken only after the completion of the series in the sense…I know Hanuma Vihari, who has done well for the nation whenever he was given the opportunity, is waiting in the wings. But a little unfortunate that Ajinkya… because when we go abroad, we expect Pujara and Rahane to play solid roles in the middle," said the former chief selector.
"Pujara has come to those terms and I hope that Rahane will get into that groove now, maybe in the last Test match. He has got a hundred in Australia when nobody was there in the team and we all trust him especially when we play abroad. But this time it was a little disappointing. I hope he scores in the final Test because he has always scored in the toughest of the conditions for the country."
Prasad further lavished praise on Indian batsman Rohit Sharma for his "superb" hundred at The Oval. "When we made him open especially after that World Cup, his performance has been exceptionally good in white ball cricket so we thought that why can't he be given an opportunity in red ball cricket and in that process, because that time we had a settled opener in Mayank Agrawal, then Prithvi Shaw was tried and Shubman Gill was tried, so for several reasons, unfortunately Prithvi Shaw lost the way That's when we thought we should give him (Rohit) an opportunity.
"We offered him an opening in the Test and he accepted it. Today that has resulted into this kind of innings. Getting a hundred in England against England is superb. I am really very happy for Rohit," he added.