Virat Kohli grappled and then wrestled with greatness to craft an epic
For what is domination?
Few might say it is the ability to cross out the hurdles and manoeuvre through, others might say it is the penchant to look for hurdles and erode them out of sight!
And then there is Virat Kohli, who believes in control, for him, everything is all about what you do when you are isolated from the convulsive noise, for you are as small as your controlling desire and then can turn around to be as great as your dominant aspiration.
34 ODI centuries, there is bound to be domination, 34 ODI centuries, there are bound to be doubts, 34 ODI centuries, there is bound to be brimming desire!
And yet, this 34th effort was not dominant, there were phases of doubt, there were phases of attrition, and when such traits envelop you, the bounding desire takes control. It took control of Kohli.
For the first time in the series, South Africa wanted to push India before them, Kohli did not mind it either, he wanted to bat first, but when Rohit Sharma was sent back packing in the first over, and the ball was hooping around, there were few utterances felt!
Kohli and Rabada, the competition has played out like a scripted drama all across the series, an inch not given, an inch not conceded!
Hence, when Rabada yelped out an appeal against Kohli in the third over, South Africa were bouncing around. The Indian captain might be a few things but he is seldom indecisive and with almost a prayer on his lips referred it. A scratch on the ball surfaced in the replays, a bemused Ian Gould reversed his decision, and Kohli took guard again.
For some weird reason, Shikhar Dhawan’s head is always on the chopping block, but his strokes at the other end kept driving home the point that he is as important as Rohit Sharma to India’s limited-overs plans.
Kohli, though, was scratching along. Aiden Markram and South Africa had plans, they had bowlers and they had fielders who stuck to it and just like that the skipper was not flying along, he was scratching and grappling through his innings.
The line employed was very well thought out, it was back of a length on the stumps, which took away the drives and kept a lid on his strokes in the ‘V’. However, this is where Kohli found another area to score, he remained on the backfoot and cracked the balls square of the wicket.
He was striking at a rate of 55.90 (mid-off) and 90.9 (mid-on) today which was considerably lower than his career strike which reads 62 and 104.
However, there was a considerable spike in his strokes played square of the wicket which shot up to 100 and 130 on the off and on side respectively from 84 to 121.
This is what defines ambition, and this is what belief creates. No shots were manufactured, the bounding desire would have been there, but it was controlled, and aspiration took precedence!
There was an element of good fortune sprinkled along the way, but Kohli would look at you, blink and say, a different opportunity came along and he was ready, it ain’t luck!
Also, as the score meandered along for Kohli, his false strokes percentage rose to 13, which was his highest for any innings which lasted more than 30 balls over the past 12 months.
He looked out of sorts, but never looked hassled, he ran between the wickets, he pushed his partners along, and almost as if inevitable, those drives came flooding back in.
That much-adorned bottom hand was in play, it was his most productive stroke, perhaps this indicated that he cajoled the South African bowlers to attack his stumps since the back of length tactic was not working.
48 for three happened, Dhawan, Rahane, and Dhoni fell by the wayside, and Kohli had to recalibrate again!
There is this thing with not being swayed away by fleeting fickle problems, it builds your own arguments, and then it builds such a forceful case that the skeptics are coerced into believing your theory.
This is what Kohli did in Newlands, he was not in control, but such was his argument that South Africa meekly followed him without raising any flags.
79 percent was his control rate when he got to his 150, the final push still evaded him, he still ran, he still pushed Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and yes that flick shot had accrued 43 runs for him.
Third score of more than 150 and just like that, he stood tall, pushed his weight on the backfoot, and thumped Rabada, yes, Rabada over deep square leg. Next ball, he stayed put, anticipated the full ball and smoked a scorching drive down the ground.
South Africa were being rational, Kohli was not at his best, he was just persuasive, he was assertive and he forced the hosts to come take refuge in his corner!
160 in 159 balls, the runs met the balls, glinted at it and then yanked ahead. The end score pulled India to 303, the end score will underline his dominance, the end score will never relay the fact that it was patchy, it was scratchy, it was frustrating, it was not like Kohli.
However, when he stomped out of the park, the final score had the stamp of Virat Kohli’s belligerence, it was was an epic which managed to evade the struggle and then trample the opponents to wrestle with greatness!