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How to separate Virat Kohli from the boys

by Gaurav Sethi

Virat Kohli walks in when the first Indian wicket falls. If the ball is doing a bit, as it has been in the Asia Cup, he's still in the middle at the fall of the second wicket. And the third wicket. If anything, Virat should have been done in by the repetitiveness of India's batting slides.

Consistency is not the nature of a T20 batsman. Virat Kohli though, is not a typical T20 batsman. He has an almost scientific know-how of his game. His cricket. Not his T20 game or his ODI game or his Test game. His cricket.

Virat's cricketing expertise is what binds the batsman across formats. He doesn't try too hard to change what he does in T20s - already in multiple man-of-the-match chats he has harped on about not doing anything different but focussing on his game. On playing the same shots no matter what the format.

His game is not built on playing the ball in the air. You would have noticed, compared to Rohit Sharma, Virat hits far fewer sixes. (27 compared to 41.)

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma strike at almost the same rate in T20s (132 and 129). It's Virat's batting average that is alarmingly high for a T20 batsman, over 50.

He scores heavily through point and the covers - the dab behind point into the ground is his get off strike shot. The dispatch through covers, thudding into the practice pitches is the King's seal. The prowl down the wicket, almost Deanoesque, with a flick of the wrists, a whack of the ball, is the transporter. By now, they are etched in your mind, as they no doubt, engraved in his, to be played on call.

However, more than the big shots, it's those patient leaves and blocks that have taken Virat's game to the next level. At a time where intolerance is a mantra, both with trigger-happy cricketers and citizens, where it's easier to hit first and think later, Virat has been almost sagelike playing that waiting game.

Over the years, "playing my natural game" has been abused by way too many batsmen. It's often an easy, simplified answer to those same old boring questions. It often begs the question, is it in your natural game to not adapt? But how well Virat has adapted - through that spell from hell from Mohammad Amir; he left, blocked, dabbed behind point, till he could rip him through the covers. Virat conceded three overs to Amir, snatching the fourth from him. Even then, the risk was low; the ball was played into the ground, as was Pakistan.

In 2016 so far, Virat Kohli has three not-outs in scores of 90*, 59*, 50, 7, 49, 56*. In these six innings, he's hit only four 6s. India has won all six matches. Virat Kohli is yet to hit a six in the Asia Cup.

First published here


Ghanshyam singh said...

Frankly I did not find him as talented when he was new...but boy that 133 against SL in Hobart and 183 against Pak in Asia cup was gold...he is already a legend.

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