“The career graph for Kohli is only on a hike now. With every game, with every outing, with every series, he is evolving. He’s been a good student and this brilliance is just a reflection of his dedication and commitment”.
The class act
Scoring centuries has become a routine for the Indian skipper Virat Kohli. He does this just like the way he goes about his other day-to-day activities. He has been in an insane form and has made the most of it by getting big scores under his belt. His mind-boggling performances have only started raising questions regarding his very own existence as a human, such has been the impact of the Indian skipper.
At SuperSport Park, Kohli went on to smash his 35th ODI ton and third in the six-match series. India romped home to another victory riding on Kohli’s brilliance with after bowlers had done their job. South Africa just didn’t have any option and looked clueless while solving the Kohli mystery. Their bowlers failed to create any trouble whatsoever and looked bereft of oomph against the in-form batsman.
On a pitch, where most of the batsmen struggled to get going, Kohli looked in a different zone altogether. This has been the story throughout the series though, he has looked as if he’s batting on a different pitch. He scored 129 of 96 deliveries at a staggering strike-rate of 134.38, with the help of 19 boundaries and couple of sixes. Kohli is someone, who believes a lot in running between the wickets, and garners a chunk of his runs through excellent running. But 21 boundaries in this innings is only a testament to his adaptability and supremacy in these conditions. Indian won by eight wickets and sealed the series 5-1.
He is a team man, for Kohli, it is always about the team first. In the Cape Town encounter, Kohli garnered 100 off his knock of 160 through running. The series was not clinched by then and Kohli batted with utmost care. He hardly played any aerial shot and batted in a way that could have benefitted the team most. But in the final encounter, the target was modest, there wasn’t a lot of help on the pitch and the series was already won. Kohli could have afforded to go for the kill and play with some belligerence, which he did. There was less pressure and Kohli certainly exhibited some beautiful strokes.
The chase master
Kohli is a chase master, he finds himself in a completely different zone while hunting down a target. He reads the situation well and adapts quickly, chasing aids his game. Chasing 205 was never going to be a challenge for the Indian side by looking at the kind of form they have been in the series. But the way Kohli batted and made a mockery of South Africa’s pace attack was commendable. He scored boundaries at will.
Kohli innings was clean as a whistle. Although he was dropped on 103, but the job was done till then and victory was just a formality. He has set a new benchmark and led the side with an example. One could have expected Kohli to take rest for this encounter and gear up for the upcoming T20 series, but it wasn’t to be. India went in all guns blazing and played full strength.
India’s middle-order was not firing, but this didn’t bog down Kohli. He scored ample of runs at the top and eased the pressure, which is a mark of a champion. One of the key reasons behind Kohli scoring centuries consistently is his ability to convert. He doesn’t fizzle out after a start and the conversion rate is astronomical.
Scaling newer heights
Kohli now has 9588 ODI runs, which places him 15th in the list of most number of runs scored in ODIs. He was on 19th spot prior to the start of this series. His tally of 558 runs in the ODI series is also the highest runs scored in a bilateral series. It’s almost magical. The pace at which Kohli is achieving milestones is mind-boggling.
Kohli spoke about the performance in the post-match press conference. “One month back we were a very bad team. Now we are being asked these questions. We haven’t changed our mindset. We have just focused on our cricket. I don’t want to get lost in such thoughts: whether this is the biggest win or no. Our work is to play the game, strive hard, our work is to perform and try to win every match. Now whether this is the biggest win or not, whoever wants to analyse, write, will do so. For us as a team, our only mindset is to give 120% effort, strive hard in practice, keep our mindset good on every day of the tour and prepare so well that we can go and win,” Kohli said.
“We have achieved that this series, and that gives us the most happiness. Creating these tags or headlines is not our work. We just wanted to play cricket, which we have executed perfectly this series. I know for a fact that 90% of the people didn’t give us a chance after two Tests. I was sitting in the same room giving a press conference. So we understand where we’ve come from,” Kohli added.
In the Test series, Kohli showed he can take on the best of bowling attacks and smash a century in the second encounter. In the ODIs, he scaled newer heights, scoring 558 runs in six innings that included three centuries and a fifty. With a Twenty20 International (T20I) series lined up, one can only expect Kohli to replicate his magical performance in the shortest format and carry the momentum. He is versatile and his prolific run in both the formats corroborates the belief.
Indian coach Ravi Shastri didn’t shy away from praising the Indian skipper. He said, “When I see him batting like this… and I’ve seen him batting across all conditions, in all formats. And it’s not just averages, it’s the way you get run when you get it, and the impact those runs have on what the team does. I would simply say he’s the best batsman in the world now.
The career graph for Kohli is only on a hike now. With every game, with every outing, with every series, he is evolving. He’s been a good student and this brilliance is just a reflection of his dedication and commitment. He sets high standards with the bat, on the field, as a skipper. And this Indian side is brimming with confidence under the firing skipper. With Kohli in red-hot form, expect some fireworks in the T20I series.