Australia vs India: Will the ‘collapse of 36’ harm the Brand Kohli?

Poor performance in Adelaide may have a long- term effect on the Indian team, but is there a case of having an adverse impact on Kohli’s brand?

Virat Kohli is not just a normal Indian cricket team captain, but he is also a top-notch social-media icon, endorsement king, and the most celebrated Indian figure. He creates the buzz in media and brand market. After the embarrassing loss against Australia in the first test of Border Gavaskar Test series 2020/21, Kohli was trending for wrong reasons.

Before the Test series, Kohli was the main face of the Australian media. Broadcasters had created the hype of the series around arguably the best batsman in the world. Former Indian coach Greg Chappell labelled Kohli as the most Australian non-Australian cricketer of all-time. Chappell applauded Virat’s intensity for bringing a paradigm shift in Indian cricket.

And now, the tables have really turned. Former India cricketer, Virender Sehwag taunted the Indian team and the skipper for the terrible performance at the Pink-ball Test. Sehwag tweeted “The OTP to forget 49204084041”, where he denoted the sequence of scores of the batter in the second innings. The Indian legend, Sachin Tendulkar also commented after India’s collapse and said, “India was outclassed in the second half.”

Could this poor performance affect brand Kohli?

Before the monumental collapse in the second innings at Adelaide, India’s previous worst Test score was 42 against England in 1974 at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Sunil Gavaskar, who was also part of the Indian team in 1974, wrote an anecdote in his autobiography ‘Sunny Days’, where the Indian stars saw a sudden downfall after the collapse of 42.

The Indian team was invited to pay a visit to the residence of Indian High Commissioner, BK Nehru for a dinner. Before the dinner, the team got into an ugly spat with the media for their poor batting display

Gavaskar wrote, “By the time we got into the bus (from the media event), it was already 6:30 PM, the time we were supposed to be present at the High Commissioner’s party. Our coach got delayed in the traffic and we reached the entrance of the Kensington Gardens around 7 PM. The entrance was too narrow for the big coach to go in and all of us had to get off and rush past a few houses until we came to the High Commissioner’s residence. Ajit (then the Indian captain) had gone in, we were still in the driveway of the house. By the time we reached the porch, Ajit was returning looking crestfallen and grim. When we asked what the matter was, Ajit replied: “He (High Commissioner BK Nehru) has asked us to get out.”

The 36 all-out might not have a bizarre hit on the current Indian players as compared to what the older players saw. The current Indian skipper after the Adelaide loss said, “It is very hard to find words to express how everyone is feeling in the change room. It really hurts. Everything happened so quickly that no one could make any sense out of it. The game was ours till Day 2. The Indians batter did show intent. The bowlers didn’t bowl in the right areas.”

And the Indian public responded to the loss in a subtle way as compared to the reaction which Wadekar faced. Wadekar was sacked from the captaincy and lost his place in the Indian and as well as in the West Zone side.  On the other hand, Kohli was just bashed with millions of sexist and toxic ‘memes’, commenting on his style of captaincy, his wife Anushka Sharma, and his speculated rift with Rohit Sharma.

This might not harm Captain Kohli as he is the most successful Indian Test skipper as per the numbers. He has a win percentage of 58.92%, so his brand value is not unlikely to suffer a dip. Moreover, Kohli was one of the better batsmen in the first innings for the visitors. Since Kohli has enough credit in the bank, both as a player and brand, this poor showing from India is unlikely to make a big impact. It will take a series of poor performances from Kohli to see a knock-on effect on Kohli’s brand.


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