Virat Kohli and his super-human consistency never cease to amaze
It was 18 August 2008. I remember a 20-something lad opening the innings for India in a one-day international against Sri Lanka at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. He looked fresh and naïve, quite similar to a first-year college student. His stance was natural as he stood there, wide-eyed, to face his first delivery in international cricket.
His stay at the crease was quite ordinary as he could only score a dozen runs before being trapped by Nuwan Kulasekara. The disappointment on his face was screaming out loud as he made his way back to the dugout.
A decade after making his ODI debut, Virat Kohli has transformed the art of batsmanship. Talk of purple patches across formats and only one name will come to mind – Virat Kohli.
The Indian skipper is going through a phase wherein he’s eating hundreds for breakfast. Whenever he walks out to bat, his fans expect him to score a century. Recently, he was seen pushing the Proteas into a burrow with an unbeaten 254.
It certainly won’t be hyperbole to say that he has gone beyond expectations consistently. Many believe that he has become infallible, and a monstrous career average of 60 in ODIs is enough to substantiate that claim.
The way he scores runs makes batting look effortlessly simple. The 30-year-old ended up scoring as many as five consecutive fifties in the 2019 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. No big deal for a guy who seems to be obsessed with scoring hundreds, right?
The pace and consistency at which the modern master is churning out hundreds are astonishing. With 43 centuries in the limited-overs format under his belt already, he’s scaling new heights with each passing game. The entire cricketing fraternity is in awe.
Kohli is the undisputed master of ODI run chases. 26 of his 43 centuries in coloured clothing have come while chasing. Furthermore, only four of the 26 centuries while chasing have come in a losing cause.
Kohli showed glimpses of his mastery right from the early days. One of his classiest innings came at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart (2012), where the Indian side faced the Lankans in a must-win clash.
Needing 321 from 40 overs at a rate of a fraction over eight to secure a bonus point, Kohli anchored the innings and scored a belligerent 133 not out off just 86 deliveries to give the Indians an unlikely victory.
Kohli’s confidence and game awareness happen to be two of his biggest weapons. The confidence with which he approaches every single game throws ample light on his commitment and mental strength. He loves steering the side out of precarious situations, at times almost single-handedly.
He might appear a bit uncomfortable at first, but once he gets going, nothing can break his concentration - be it the regular fall of wickets or even the constant failure of the top order. He takes full ownership of the decisions and tries to back them with actions to get the job done and dusted, regardless of the circumstances.
Kohli's commitment is also what sets him apart from the rest. His ability to execute his strokes with surgical precision makes him an able stroke-maker. The stylish flick through mid-wicket, the booming cover drive through extra-cover, and the fierce cut over point are some of his trademark strokes.
Kohli is also a livewire on the field, and is often seen taking some spectacular catches. Even the TV screens can’t hide the bubble of energy surrounding the Delhi lad as he goes about marshaling his troops, often leading by example.
He is expressive and prepared for any given situation. Throw a challenge at him and he will grab it with both his hands. Ask him to walk on water and he’d say, “Right, how many steps do I need to walk.”
At times, he can even be seen screaming at his partner while batting, particularly Rohit Sharma. But that just goes to show how much passion he has while playing.
Being the captain of the Indian side is not the easiest of jobs to undertake, but Kohli seems to have learned a lot about captaincy at a young age. The first-ever bilateral series win on Australian soil is just a teaser of what Kohli can achieve in the years to come if he continues to lead his troops fearlessly.
With the Indians on the cusp of registering a series victory over the visiting South Africans, Kohli would now have his eyes set on continuing the momentum and taking the team to new and uncharted heights.
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