Explained: How Virat Kohli got out against KKR, and his long-standing lbw problem

IPL 2021, RCB vs KKR: According to Virat Kohli, he got out because he didn't press forward, but predetermined the ball and weight was on his back foot.

He had just hit Prasidh Krishna for a four – a rasping on-the-up punch through covers off a back of length delivery from the seamer Prasidh Krishna. In his own words, he expected the next ball to be similar and set himself up for the same shot but was surprised by the nip-backer from a fuller length. His head was outside the line and he was forced to try working the ball across the line but couldn’t make contact and was out lbw.

What did Kohli say about it?

According to him he got out because he didn’t press forward, but predetermined the ball and weight was on his back foot.

“I got out because I predetermined he would bowl a back of length and I would hit a four (through covers),” Kohli said in a post-match chat with KKR opener Venkatesh Iyer that was posted by KKR.

Kohli was addressing Venkatesh’s query about forward press and cited his own dismissal as an example.

He also brought up the four he hit the ball before his dismissal. “The ball before I pressed forward and hit an on-the-up boundary”. He went on to explain how pressing forward allows a batsman to react better to any length.

“As long as you are pressing forward you are in good position to leave, get under the ball (for the pull) or rock up. You can spring up.. If the base is good, no need to go back also,” Kohli said.

Has lbw been an issue with him before?

Yes. Even the struggles in England in 2014 when he kept edging behind the stumps, he had seen it as problem aligned with the lbw issue to an extent. To his balance at the crease due to his hip position that he was trying to get it right for his troubles against the inswingers.

“The problem with me was that I was expecting inswingers too much and opened up my hip a lot more than I should have done. I was constantly looking for the inswinger and was in no position to counter the outswing,” he had once said in an interview with BCCI.tv.

What was the problem as perceived by him, then?

He felt his hips were opening up early because of the back foot position at stance.

“I used to stand at two leg (middle stump) and my stance was pretty closed and then I figured out that after initial movement of the backfoot, my toe wasn’t going towards point rather it was towards cover point, so anyway my hip was opening up initially. So to get the feel of the ball, I had to open up my hip as I was too side on. Anyway, I had too much of a bottom hand grip and I didn’t have too much room for my shoulder, to adjust to the line of the ball, so it was getting too late when it swung in front of my eyes,” Virat explained.

What did he do to course correct?

He widened his stance a bit and realigned his back foot position to ensure his hip didn’t open up. “I wanted to make sure that my toe is pointing in point direction rather than cover, that’s how I kept my hip nice and side-on and gave myself room. I widened my stance as well so that I have good balance when I wanted to go forward.”

Did he take help from Sachin Tendulkar on the forward press?

Yes he did, post that England tour of 2014. “Sachin helped as he told me that I have to approach a fast bowler (forward press) just like you approach a spinner. One has to get on top of the ball not worry about pace or swing, you got to get towards the ball and give the ball lesser chance to move around and trouble you. Those advice helped me and became my second nature.”

Is that backfoot position, being parallel, towards point, the ideal position?

This is where it gets tricky.

In some people’s eyes, especially the proponents of open-stance, trying to keep the backfoot totally parallel when he triggers is not helping but part of the problem.

From there, when the hips open, it can reopen a bit too much. And occasionally, it can lead to his head tipping over to the off side, outside the line of the ball to incoming deliveries. That’s when the lbw threats escalate.

On the other hand, the proponents of keeping it side-on (with back foot pointing towards point and remaining parallel as Kohli strives) believe that it helps in making sure the shoulder doesn’t open too early and balance is better maintained. That they can negotiate the moving ball better from this position, especially if they can get the forward press right.

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