Virat Kohli’s showed yet again that he is a champion when it comes to run-chases in One-Day Internationals. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines certain facts affirm the fact that Kohli is a champion one-day batsman.
Virat Kohli is a supreme force when it comes to run-chases. Out of his 17 One-Day International (ODI) tons, 11 have come in run-chases and India have won on each occasion. Furthermore, he is only behind Sachin Tendulkar in the list of most tons in successful run-chases. The legendary batsman scored 14 tons in such scenarios in a 23-year-old ODI career. Kohli is only 24-years old and he is three shy of Tendulkar’s record. That stat speaks volumes for Kohli!
In the ongoing series against Australia, Kohli has scripted two gems in the face of adversity. A target over 350 is still a tough challenge, although people may point fingers at the new rules in one-day cricket. In both innings, Kohli has built on a platform laid by the openers — who scored at around a run-a-ball. It was almost as if a rocket took off after the launcher had given it enough fuel.
Consider the situations, Kohli walked into bat during those two games. At Jaipur, India were chasing 360 and were 179 for one in the 27th over when they lost Shikhar Dhawan. At Nagpur, the openers had taken a little more time as India were 178 for one in the 30th over while chasing 351. India had considerable distance to cover and they needed someone to build the momentum. A batsman may get carried away by the enormity of the task before him and essay a rash stroke or two. However, Kohli is no ordinary batsman. For him, this is a challenge that demands nothing but success.
The great thing about Kohli has been the way he has batted with the required-rate hovering over eight. He didn’t try anything extraordinary and merely essayed normal cricketing strokes. The off-side in particular was laced with a few well-timed shots throughout the innings. There was a lot of measure in those strokes as he waited for the ball to come and didn’t try anything premeditated. Even when he had to target a few bowlers — as he did at the death at Nagpur — there was a lot of thought in the execution. That is proof of remarkable control over the game and shot-making.
Using that approach, Kohli has managed to score at a T20 pace. In the second ODI at Jaipur, he had raced to his fifty of 27 balls and then sped away to his hundred in the next 25 deliveries he faced. In the sixth ODI, he got to the first half-century in 31 balls and the next fifty in 30 deliveries. Normally when you hear about batsmen smashing tons in 50-60 odd balls, you picture them slogging their way to glory. Kohli is different; he dominates with cultured aggression right through.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s record in successful run-chases is well known, but with the two latest performances, Kohli is not far behind. For batsmen who have batted in over 40 victorious pursuits, Kohli is second to only Dhoni in terms of the averages.
Here is the table:
Kohli stands out in this table because he is a top-order batsman and has yet managed to record such a high average in run-chases. Dhoni, Michael Bevan, Michael Clarke and Hansie Cronje majorly batted in the middle-order while chasing and had more chances of remaining unbeaten by the time their sides overhauled the totals. However, Kohli comes in at No 3 and has shown the tendency to finish it. That is truly remarkable as he absorbs the pressure and not only sets up a contest, but also finishes it. This is a hallmark of a champion one-day player.
Prior to the ongoing India-Australia series, you spoke about the ton at Hobart where Kohli demolished Sri Lanka (Lasith Malinga in particular) and helped India chase a 300-plus total inside 40 overs. Or, you would have also mentioned the 183 against arch-rivals Pakistan at Dhaka. But, Kohli’s two latest efforts have taken batting to a new level and has certainly shown that nothing is impossible in today’s era.