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World Cup 2019: Can Virat Kohli make it three in a row?

Chetan Bhandi
ANALYST
Feature
1.59K   //    27 May 2019, 13:11 IST

Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 100 in his debut World Cup match against Bangladesh in 2011
Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 100 in his debut World Cup match against Bangladesh in 2011

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is less than a week away. This is the tournament where every participant team and every individual player wants to leave no stone unturned to make the maximum possible impact. No wonder, older records keep getting broken and newer ones keep getting created in the cricketing carnival.

When the Indian team will take on South Africa in their first fixture of the tournament on 5th June, a special record will be beckoning their team captain Virat Kohli. Let's know more about that special one:

A dream World Cup debut in 2011

Kohli was inducted into the Indian squad for the World Cup 2011, riding on his consistent performances in the 2010-11 season. After scoring the most runs for India in a series against South Africa just before the quadrennial event, Kohli was successful in cementing his place in the playing XI as well.

The event opener for India was against Bangladesh at Dhaka. Having been put into batting first by the host team after they won the toss, the Indians were off to a flying start as their opener Virender Sehwag quickly got into his usual attacking mood.

Sehwag first added 69 runs with maestro Sachin Tendulkar for the first wicket and then added 83 runs in the company of No. 3 Gautam Gambhir. When the latter was dismissed in the 24th over, the score was 152 for 2 and in came the 22-year-old Kohli.

By that time, Sehwag was nearing his century. Kohli got into the groove quickly as he kept on matching stroke by stroke with his senior partner who was in full flow demolishing the hapless Bangladesh attack.

Before Sehwag departed at his individual score of 175 off 140 deliveries, the Delhi duo added a whopping 202 runs together in just 24 overs, propelling India’s total past 350.  

Kohli, after punishing the host attack at his will with 8 boundaries and 2 maximums, reached his hundred on the penultimate delivery of the Indian innings, consuming just 83 deliveries. He became the first Indian to score a century in his debut match at the World Cup.

India posted a huge total of 370/4 and restricted Bangladesh to 283/9, winning by a big margin of 87 runs and setting the tone for the Cup which they eventually won.

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Dominating Pakistan bowling in the opening match in 2015

Four years hence, entering World Cup 2015, Kohli's reputation had grown by leaps and bounds. He had arrived in Australia as the vice-captain of the Indian World Cup squad. Earlier in the season, he was elevated to captaincy as well, albeit in the longer format and had a great outing in the Test series in Australia, amassing 692 runs in four matches.

Virat Kohli scored a match-winning 107 (126) in the tournament opener against Pakistan in 2015
Virat Kohli scored a match-winning 107 (126) in the tournament opener against Pakistan in 2015

India’s first match in the tournament was against their arch-rivals Pakistan at Adelaide. After winning the toss, captain MS Dhoni chose to bat and the Indian openers started steadily before Rohit Sharma got out when his team’s score was 34.

Kohli, who had already made No. 3 batting position as his own, came in and started slowly. He got an early scare as well when he was batting at four as Pakistani fielder Yasir Shah couldn’t hold on to a tough chance.

Kohli then dropped the anchor and started giving more strike to his fellow dasher from Delhi, Shikhar Dhawan, who seemed to be in full control of the things at the other end. As the spinners were introduced into the attack, the vice-captain himself got into his act and started scoring at brisk pace.

Kohli reached his half-century in 60 deliveries, hitting just five boundaries. But he ensured he kept the scoreboard ticking all the while as he was running hard between the wickets. But a hara-kiri while taking a run resulted into Dhawan’s dismissal in the 30th over. However, by that time, the Delhi duo had already added 129 runs for the second wicket and had built a solid foundation.

Suresh Raina walked in at No. 4 and suddenly things started moving in greater pace. Kohli got another life when Pakistan wicket-keeper Umar Akmal dropped an easy chance. Post that, the Indian vice-captain continued to keep himself busy, running for ones and twos and finding the occasional boundary.

Kohli reached his three-figure mark in the 43rd over, becoming the first Indian to score a hundred in a World Cup match against Pakistan. He also became the first Indian to score back-to-back centuries in his team’s tournament-opening fixtures.

Kohli finally got out for 107 in the 46th over of the Indian innings. It was more of a measured knock than a flamboyant one as the Indian run machine struck only eight boundaries in 126 deliveries he had faced.

The Indians reached 300 for 7 in their stipulated 50 overs and then their bowlers bowled Pakistan out for 224, securing a 76-run victory. For the gritty ton which had set the tone for the match and tournament as well, Kohli received his first "Player of the Match" award in the World Cup.

Can he make it three in a row?

As the 12th edition is about to start, Kohli's reputation as a cricketer has seen a massive increase. He is now the captain of the Indian team in all formats of the game. Under his leadership, India has scripted many series victories and is currently No. 2 in ICC ODI team rankings and is one of the favourites to lift the Cup.

Kohli is enjoying a great run with the bat as well. He has already accumulated 41 centuries in his kitty and recently became the fastest to reach 10000+ run club in the 50-over format. He is currently the No. 1 batsman in ICC Men's ODI Batting Rankings.

Riding high on confidence, Kohli would be looking forward to opening the tournament with a bang again, hopefully stretching his century-scoring streak in the tournament openers to three in a row. Should that happen, it would be another special record for the Chase Master. 

Also read - Most maiden overs in a world cup match

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