Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Virat Kohli: The odd man not out

Virat Kohli's knock was not enough in the ICC World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka as the MS Dhoni-led unit failed to win the title (AP) Virat Kohli's knock was not enough in the ICC World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka as the MS Dhoni-led unit failed to win the title (AP)
Written by Siddhartha Sharma | Posted: April 7, 2014 3:11 am | Updated: April 7, 2014 12:25 pm

Virat Kohli has been the highest run-getter (319 runs in six innings) in the World T20, with a startling average of 106.3. Apart from the match against Australia, Kohli has scored fifties in four innings and has remained unbeaten on 36 against Pakistan.

What has helped with his consistency has been his ability to change gears instantly, aided by his confidence and his range of shots.

He is strong on the off side but immensely talented playing around his legs. This means Kohli doesn’t have to resort to un-orthodox shots, like a AB de Villiers or Tillakaratne Dilshan. He stands his ground and waits for the right opportunities, for the ball to land in his area.

In the tense semifinal against South Africa, despite the climbing required run rate, Kohli was willing to wait for bad balls, before teeing off at the end. That Steyn was bowling did not matter when the ball was bowled in the Kohli zone.

Another factor that has given Kohli the status of a match winner is how he has paced his innings. A lot of aggressive batsmen, especially in the T20 format, are more than happy to play their strokes ball after ball. Perhaps as a result of playing alongside other big hitters like Gayle and de Villiers in the IPL, Kohli ensures that even when the boundaries aren’t coming, he is never stuck at one end. Like Brian Lara noted on twitter after a game: “The beauty about Kohli’s batting is that even though he hasn’t hit a single boundary his strike rate is still more than 100. What a dynamic player!”

But Kohli wouldn’t be half the player that he is if he didn’t have that seemingly inextinguishable fire in his belly. On the eve of the final, India captain Dhoni paid rich tribute to the hunger his lieutenant has for runs.

“He a consistent performer, somebody who doesn’t throw away his wicket. At the same time, he scores at a pace which is very difficult to match by many other individuals. And yet, he plays very authentic cricketing shots,” said Dhoni.

If only the other batsmen had taken a leaf out of Kohli’s book in the final. Kohli was out on the last ball of the final, but was kept out of strike for 16 of the last 24 balls. Predictably, India were several runs short of an above-par total.

(Siddhartha is a senior correspondent. He is based in New Delhi)

siddhartha.sharma@expressindia.com

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