India captain Virat Kohli leaves the ground after losing his wicket during the first day of the second Test.
India captain Virat Kohli leaves the ground after losing his wicket during the first day of the second Test. Aijaz Rahi

Pressure telling on India skipper

STEVE Smith was right: opposite number Virat Kohli is a man under serious pressure.

Kohli accused the Australian captain of trying to play "mind games" with him on match eve, but Saturday's meek exit showed that India's best batsman is in fact losing a battle inside his own head.

For the second consecutive match, Kohli shouldered arms to a straight ball from one of Australia's spinners and departed with next to no impact on the scoreboard.

This time he was trapped stone cold lbw to Nathan Lyon and to make matters worse, desperation and shock forced him to completely butcher a DRS review that was so obviously legless, he started walking before the end of the first replay.

This is a scenario that nobody saw coming, not least of all Kohli himself - who snapped at a pre-match press conference when pushed on the mindset of his team.

Despite Kohli's repeated denials about being in a fractured headspace leading into the second Test, one of the great competitors in cricket is on the ropes on his home soil with scores of zero, 13 and 12.

"That's the second time in this series Kohli has been dismissed leaving the ball," said Matt Hayden in commentary on Star Sports.

"A judgmental error from the best batsman in the world. There's only one reason for that - and that's pressure."

Kohli has time to fight back in this match and in this series, but right now his pre-match promises that he was as fresh as a daisy are now sounding more and more like they were forced and said through gritted teeth.

"Who, me?" Kohli snapped at a reporter who put to him Smith's assertion that India were feeling the pressure.

"Does it look like it?

"I'm pretty relaxed. I'm happy. I'm smiling. It's fine.

"His views (are his) and whatever he wants to say."

The Australian team is fully aware they've got inside the head of a champion, and when Lyon got his man, David Warner led jubilant celebrations.

When he had his off-stump pegged back by Steve O'Keefe last week the 28-year-old stayed at the crease for what seemed an age, in utter disbelief.

On Saturday it happened again and to compound his shocking error of judgment against Lyon, Kohli committed the same cardinal sin as was made by several of his teammates in the first Test, as he inexplicably sent his plumb lbw dismissal upstairs.

So far back in his crease, Kohli was almost standing on his stumps when he was hit directly in front, halfway up.

Kohli soon realised he had wasted a chance as he marched immediately for the dressing room, not even bothering to wait for an official decision to be handed down.

The powerhouse who had scored double hundreds in each of his three previous series is out of form and struggling to accept he is feeling the heat.

News Corp Australia


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