In Test cricket, strike rate matters only for bowlers, not for batsmen — one often hears traditionalists, including former cricketers, fall back upon this presumption to justify batsmen taking their own time to get things moving in the longest format.
Well, someone like Virat Kohli, who features regularly in all three formats, doesn’t believe in this conservative approach. Since making his Test debut at Kingston back in 2011, he has not only piled up hundred after hundred (19 to be exact), but he has also scored the runs briskly, much like his 213 in the Nagpur Test.
In fact, in the last couple of years, Kohli’s strike-rate in Test cricket has been 64.38, which for a middle-order batsman, is very lucrative.
— Paytm (@Paytm) November 26, 2017
Here in Nagpur, during India’s innings, four batsmen scored hundreds, but as expected, Kohli scored his runs faster than any of his colleagues. Or even his Sri Lankan counterparts who surpassed fifty.
Opener Murali Vijay’s 128 off 221 balls was made a strike rate of 57.91. Cheteshwar Pujara’s 14th Test hundred — 143 off 362 balls — had a strike-rate of less than 40 (39.50). Rohit Sharma’s 102 off 160 balls was scored at a rate 63.75, compared to Kohli’s 213 off 267 balls, which came at an impressive rate of 79.77.
Asked why other players could not score at Kohli’s pace, Pujara admitted in the post-day press conference that it was his skipper’s sheer class which made it possible.
“See, he [Kohli] is a kind of player who performs well in all the formats of the game and the way he started off, if there were some other batsmen, I don’t think they could have started in the same way. I think it’s his confidence and way he is batting, in last two to three years, it would have been difficult for any other batsman to score at such a strike rate,” Pujara said, praising Kohli’s efforts.
Congratulations Virat Kohli on your 5th Test double hundred. Been a joy to watch this effortless knock. Vijay, Pujara were brilliant and Rohit looking good as well. #IndvSL
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) November 26, 2017
Interestingly, Pujara, who faced 362 balls for his 143, labelled the Jamtha wicket “difficult”. Not from the batting perspective, but certainly when it came to scoring runs at a brisk pace.
“I think, it was difficult to score runs on this wicket, it was on the slower side. It was not easy to get boundaries and we had to rotate the strike,” he said.
“Whenever we got some opportunities, we tried playing some shots. But overall, it was a tough pitch, where you might not get out but it was also difficult to score runs,” Pujara said, assessing the conditions perfectly.
Lately, as a part of the workload management strategy, the Indian think-tank has adopted a horse for courses ploy, when it comes to picking cricketers for different formats. They almost have a separate set of line-ups for red and white ball cricket.
However, Kohli is one of the few members of this team, who features in all three formats on a regular basis and we have seen the benefits of this on Sunday. The run-machine from India, scored his fifth double hundred, maintaining a healthy strike-rate of over 70 throughout his innings of 213, on a wicket where others have meandered in the range of fifty runs per hundred balls.
Virat Kohli made that century look very easy. A great batsman at the height of his powers against a bowling side that posed no questions.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) November 26, 2017
When he came to the crease towards the end of Day 2, India had already taken the lead. He knew, from that position, he can afford to be a little more aggressive. He approached the situation as the middle-overs of a one-day innings during which he could bat naturally, without taking any sort of risk. Till reaching the three-figure mark, he played no aerial shots, but even that did not affect his strike-rate thanks to his skills of finding the gaps with ease – a byproduct of mastering the shorter versions of the game in which he gets at runs at 91.73 and 137.84 per 100 balls in ODIs and T20IS respectively.
When Kohli started his innings, India had a run-rate of less than three per over and when he finished the overall run-rate was almost touching the 3.50-mark with the lead crossing 400-run mark, which seems good enough to bat Sri Lanka out of this Test match.
This was Kohli’s impact in the match.