World Cup 2019: 3 ways Virat Kohli has matured as a captain
India have made the perfect start to their World Cup campaign. Facile wins against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan saw the Men in Blue at their dominant best in all departments of the game before they faced a real test from an unlikely source, Afghanistan. It is to their credit that the Indians did not lose their nerve in a thrilling encounter and avoided a catastrophic upset, thus maintaining their unbeaten record in the tournament.
Captain Virat Kohli's role in these victories has been understated but is immensely significant. His captaincy has matured at the right time. He still wears his heart on his sleeve but has tempered his passion with cricketing maturity.
Here are the three important ways that the Indian captain's leadership has evolved for the better.
1. Batting with an eye on the bigger picture
Kohli is the best batsman in the world, period. However, his talent and effortless style have been the guiding forces in his approach to what he does best. That has brought him immense dividends in a record-breaking spree that continues unabated. He has molded his game through hard-work to eliminate the little chinks that existed there - especially his proclivity to reach out for the wide ball outside off-stump.
In this World Cup though, a new facet of captain Kohli's batting has come to light. He has been willing to play second fiddle to further the team's cause. Rohit Sharma's sublime knock against Pakistan saw the captain take the backseat as the two built a match-winning partnership for the second wicket. Kohli hardly unleashed himself but still ended up with 77 runs off 65 balls.
He played a similar knock against Australia, consolidating India's position with patience as Shikhar Dhawan hit a fine century.
More of this new facet was visible in tough conditions against Afghanistan. Kohli really held the innings together while caressing the ball with the silken touch he possesses and still managed a half-century at more than a 100% strike rate, thereby equaling Mohammed Azharuddin's World Cup record of three consecutive fifties.
He was the most fluent batsman on the day and he is yet to go into top gear, batting only with the team's interests in mind.