Updated: February 8, 2018 12:04:19 pm
Virat Kohli said that he decided to “hit out” towards the end of the Indian innings in the third ODI as he was starting to cramp up and wickets were falling at the other end. “The wicket got considerably slower after the 30th over, so you had to again adjust your game, and make sure, with wickets falling also, that you continued adjusting through the innings. I was pleased from that point of view that I was able to bat through because I was struggling with a bit of cramp around the 90s. Then wickets kept falling, I decided to hit out, because I thought I might not have enough energy left,” the Indian captain said in a press conference after the match.
Kohli scored 160 in the third ODI at Newlands off 159 balls and most of those runs came between the wickets. His innings was punctuated by two sixes and 12 fours. Kohli said that while he was feeling the strain of a long innings towards the end, keeping the team’s interests in his mind helped him. “Then amazing things can happen when you are thinking about the team all the time. You can push your body beyond limits that you might not push yourself otherwise. I experienced that today, and that was an amazing feeling,” he said.
Kohli said that his intensity and passion for the game on and off the field is what keeps him going. “Look I am going to be 30 this year…I want to play this kind of cricket even when I am 34-35. That’s why I train so much because I am a guy who likes to play with intensity. Once that is gone, I don’t know what I am going to do on the field,” he said, “I try to protect that. I try to train as much as I can. Keep a check on my diet. Those things pay off on days like these. When the team needs it, and you stand up, and you are able to pull through. As an athlete you crave for days like these.”
Kohli’s paced his innings according to the situation of the match. While he took 64 balls to reach his 50 and 119 balls to get to his 100, he ended the innings with one more run than the number of balls he faced. “International runs are never easy. They are hard earned. Some might come on more batting-friendly pitches, but I think with their attack, and the pace and bounce they were getting initially, you had to adjust your game. Today I wanted to accelerate at different times. When Shikhar Dhawan was batting, my job was to take singles…and keep rotating the strike, to be able to get the partnership going. When he got out I wanted to accelerate but we lost 2-3 wickets immediately.
“When batting first, you switch roles — one guy is aggressor and you become the guy who is rotating strike. When he goes, you take that role up and another guy rotates strike. That is how it is usually done,” said the Indian captain, “Batting second is very different in terms of knowing what you need to do, when to accelerate, when to keep those singles coming, etc. Batting first, you want to score as many as possible but sometimes the situation doesn’t allow you to play in a certain way that you want to throughout the innings.”
India went on to win the match by 124 runs with the depleted South Africans falling once again to wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. India have taken a 3-0 lead in the six match series, meaning that a series defeat is now impossible. Moreover, South Africa have looked no match for India in the ODI series so far, thus opening up the possibility of India racing to a 6-0 win. But Kohli said that the team is not getting carried away with the form they are in. “We have to make sure we’re not letting our guard down because we worked really hard from that last Test to win four games in a row on a tough tour of South Africa. We are really proud of ourselves as a team. But I think the job is not even half done yet,” he said. “It’s (6-0 whitewash) quite a far fetched thing and still three games to go in the series. Biggest positive out of today, with 3-0 up, is that there is no way we can lose the series now. That is certainly something that lifts the team even more. As I said we would have more intensity and more passion when we step out for the fourth game,” he said.