India Vs West Indies 2016: Virat Kohli and the “sense of urgency” bug
“Play it session by session”, the purists always said. Note that there was never a mention about the runs to be scored. That’s what Test match cricket was meant to be – played over a five day period and until such time that one side eventually wore out the other.
The Australians changed the mantra to a certain extent in the nineties. Boundaries were struck in the first over and more kept flowing through the course of the day. And before we knew it, 300 at the end of a day’s play became common place. But the purists continued to co-exist with the dominating willow wielders.
Rahul Dravid became synonymous with the art of batting and in the manner it was executed in Test match cricket. Playing out a session and then another was this method. “Runs would come, just keep batting”, he presumably told himself every time he played a copy-book, high-elbowed forward defensive stroke.
But with the unmistakable popularity of Twenty20’s and the serious threat it poses to the version played in whites, Test match cricket had to evolve. That is where the likes of Virat Kohli come in. The toned torso, arms resplendent with tattoos and the super star status aside, the Indian skipper is a near perfect batting specimen.
The determination in his eyes is visible as he takes guard. And if that doesn’t make the bowler uneasy in the tummy, Kohli’s bat twirling routine before taking guard – while surveying the field – probably would. For Kohli doesn’t take guard just to play out a session, he’s looking to play the opposition out of the session.
His leaves are exaggerated while his defensive prods are well timed – all signs that he’s buckling in for the long haul. While the long stint would be more than welcome for the partisan fans, it’s his ability to score and get the score board ticking is what draws the neutrals. Kohli’s always looking for the single while scampering through to leave the close in fielders foul mouthing in frustration.
What’s more, he’s constantly turning the singles into two’s and two’s into three’s when the purists would have settled for lesser. And needless to say, his batting partners more often than not use his presence as a stimulus - a case in point being Shikhar Dhawan’s reassuring knock of 84 on day 1.
Virat Kohli is a man on a mission. Be it picking five bowlers when his predecessor opted for the safety of an extra batsmen or being unfased with grass on the turf while opting to bat upfront – Kohli’s out there to win.
And with bat in hand, he’s a warrior on the move. Steady and assured in his approach, he meticulously picks out his opposition while denting their defenses with stroke play on both sides of the wicket.
In Virat Kohli, India has a batsman extraordinaire. With every hundred, he blossoms and with every rasping flick of those power packed wrists, he delights his legions of fans the world over. With a lengthy test season ahead, his Indian fans and a select bunch of neutrals will hope and pray that his double ton at Antigua is just one of several to emanate from his magical willow.