posted on 2019-08-12 12:07:01
posted by Sahil Jain
Image Courtesy: Twitter/BCCI
42nd ODI ton, 20th as ODI captain, 67th in international cricket, 8th against West Indies, 4th in 2019, 3rd in the Caribbean, 35th at No. 3 and the list goes on and on.
There is a sense of inevitability every time Virat Kohli walks out to bat, especially in white-ball cricket. You know he will score runs, you expect him to score runs and you just expect him to churn out hundreds. That’s the expectation Kohli has set. And what’s more, he seldom disappoints.
Yes, he failed when it mattered the most. He failed in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup. He scored just one run as India crashed to a heart-breaking loss. Yes, he failed in the semi-finals of the 2015 and 2011 World Cups as well. Yes, doesn’t have a great record in World Cup semi-finals.
However, he just cannot be judged based on that. He has performed at the big stage in the past. Champions Trophy 2013 knockouts. Two World T20s (2014 and 2016). He’s been the man for India on multiple occasions in tough conditions in Test cricket. He’s mastered almost everything. Moreover, no player has shown the kind of consistency Kohli has.
In fact, he churns out runs for fun. Since the start of 2018, he has batted in 35 ODI innings and has been dismissed for single digits a mere three times. He has ten hundreds and nine fifties. There have been just six instances of him getting out under a score of 30 in an ODI game since January 2018.
Hence, Kohli is fast running towards breaking most ODI records. There’s a sense of inevitability in that as well. It just seems a matter of time before the Indian skipper breaches all those records which once seemed almost unbreakable.
There were multiple records he broke in his innings of 120 against West Indies in the second ODI at the Port of Spain. He became the leading run-scorer against West Indies in ODIs surpassing Javed Miandad’s tally of 1930 runs. He became the fastest to 2000 ODI runs against a particular team. Kohli notched up the landmark when he was on 88 and got there in 34 innings beating Rohit Sharma’s record of 37 innings against Australia. He also has most ODI hundreds by a captain against a particular team. The list will keep going on. Kohli looks to be in a different zone, different league altogether.
However, there was a phase in the World Cup where he simply couldn’t convert a fifty into a hundred. Kohli scored five on the bounce but not once did he reach the three-figure mark. That 42nd hundred eluded him. It was a rather indifferent and an underwhelming World Cup by his standards.
443 runs at an average of 55.37 is by no means a bad tournament. However, with the way Kohli has been batting for the last couple of years, it wouldn’t be wrong to term it as an underwhelming tournament for the Indian skipper. It was a scratchy little period for Kohli. He was criticised heavily for not stepping up in the World Cup semi-final.
But normal services resumed shortly. The 42nd hundred came along and Kohli made it look as simple as it could get. Make no mistake, this was by no means an easy pitch to bat on. The ball was doing a bit early on and the pitch got slower as the innings progressed. The Indian captain walked out to bat after the third delivery. However, he was determined to dominate and make a statement. You could make out the way he started.
Almost throughout the World Cup, Kohli played second fiddle. He was content to let others play their natural game and he would simply bat according to the situation. But here he showed why he is the best batsman in world cricket.
He got off to a fast start and brought up his half-century in 57 balls. However, wickets at the other end and with the pitch slowing down, he slowed down as well. However, he never let the pressure get to him by dotting it up. Kohli constantly rotated the strike as he started to form a good partnership with Shreyas Iyer. But when the opportunity was there, he didn’t miss out. He took full toll of the bad deliveries and dispatched most of them to the fence.
The Indian skipper got to his 42nd ODI ton, 20th as skipper and 8th against West Indies. He tried shifting gears after reaching the milestone and was finally dismissed for 120 as he mistimed a lofted stroke. However, it brought an end to a 124-ball masterclass. It brought an end to an 11-innings streak without an ODI ton.
Moreover, he simply loves batting against the West Indies. He averages 72.57 against them. He has eight hundreds as well. In fact, in the last seven innings against the Windies, Kohli has scored four hundreds and one fifty (the scores have been 140, 157 not out, 107, 16, 33, 72 and 120 - latest).
However, this innings of 120 was different. Like it is the case most of the times, Kohli showed that he bats on a different surface than others. While all others struggled, the Indian skipper motored along as it was just another day at work. It was business as usual for the No. 1 ranked ODI batsman in the world.
While India’s middle-order chaos, No. 4, in particular, sees no end, here is Kohli churning out hundreds for fun. He showed that he has decoded the art of batting in ODI cricket. That’s not new though. Time and again, he shows that. The way an ODI innings is built and paced, how to start, when to target certain bowlers, when to accelerate, he has mastered almost everything.