Home > Features >

Virat Kohli’s knock in World T20 final underlined his claims to greatness

Virat Kohli's patience was tested on a sluggish wicket with some accurate bowling from the Sri Lankans © Getty Images
Virat Kohli’s patience was tested on a sluggish wicket with some accurate bowling from the Sri Lankans © Getty Images

If Virat Kohli’s spellbinding knock in the semi-final was the mark of genius, the innings he essayed in the final underlines his claims to greatness — writes Arunabha Sengupta.

The 44-ball 72 in the semi-final was an innings throbbing with talent and audacity, several flashes of genius that merged together into a glittering gem. The 58-ball 77 in the final was perhaps not as sparkling through its entire course. Indeed there were phases during which the ball did not quite hit the middle of the bat, the impeccable strategy of the Sri Lankans dried up the favourite areas of stroke-play and seemed to shackle his style.

Yet, if the magnificence in the semi-final underlined yet again that Virat Kohli was special, it was the knock in the final that stamped his claims to greatness.

International sports is seldom a cakewalk. There are occasions when the soaring form dips into the realms of mediocrity. The same arc of the bat, that on the best day sends balls screaming to the fence and brings spectators to their feet with intoxicated cheers, can sometimes find timing too awry to beat the circle. Not always will there be an abundance of balls bowled in one’s favourite areas. Sometimes, as on Sunday evening, the opposition bowlers can be incredibly accurate and choke the runs down to a trickle.

Every batsman comes up against these obstacles and the truly great find a way around them.

Kohli, on the night of the final, found it difficult to get going. There was one imperious stroke early on, the ball dismissed from the off-stump past the mid-on with a contemptuous whip of the wrists. But, the innings did not rev immediately on ignition. Kohli could not really blaze away in his signature manner from the start. The first 18 balls saw him move sedately to 13, the strokes lacked the customary crispness, the deceptive bowling had him in a spot of bother. One mistimed pull off Rangana Herath was put down at mid-wicket by Lasith Malinga.

And Kohli, aided by this slice of luck, managed to regain his touch.The challenge of Twenty20 cricket is that it is too brief, there is littletime for adjustment, for rediscovery, during the course of an innings. Yet,Kohli managed to turn things around within a few deliveries. The Lankans continued to bowl superbly, but Kohli had soon found the way to time the ball once again, to find the gaps, to again become the fearsome threat he always is with the willow.

Some boundaries were contrived, like the steer to third-man off Malinga. Some others were murderously executed, like the flat sixes down the ground or that thundering drive through the covers off Nuwan Kulasekara. In spite of his sluggish start, Kohli managed to race to his fifty in 43 balls and added a further 27 in the remaining 15.

The difference between him and the rest of the batting was yawning. Kohli’s 77 came in 58 balls and the rest of the side managed 47 from 62. Even if we discount Yuvraj Singh’s harrowing time in the middle, it is fair to say that Kohli’s effort stood ahead of the all the othersby some distance — the difference between the good and the great.

Yes, India lost the match — and the focus understandably zeroed in on Yuvraj for his glacial 11 from 21 balls. However, there was plenty of silver lining for the Indians because at the other end, Kohli carvedout a fantastic new niche for himself.

On his day, Kohli is without doubt one of the best batsmen of the world. What he amply demonstrated during the final was that he can be almost as devastating even when off-colour. A rare gem indeed.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Colombo

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

More

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 87 runs

Photos

Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney

Videos

AB de Villiers: Disappointed with defeat in Australia

Cricket Australia’s marketing gimmick strips umpires of their independence

Live Updates: IPL 2013 spot-fixing and betting scandal hearing in Supreme Court: BCCI is killing the game, says Supreme Court

Australia’s top form in ODIs: Early warning for teams heading to ICC World Cup 2015

Myth Busting — did Sachin Tendulkar’s rate of scoring become slower in the second half of his career?

Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina in interesting tussle ahead of India’s Test series against Australia

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 Bangladesh Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 India Pakistan South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh 2014 Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh 2014

N Srinivasan makes quick visit to Padmanabhaswamy temple

Ranji Trophy 2014-15: Jharkhand announce probables

Steven Smith inspired by Ashes 2013 flop show

Mohammad Aamer’s return could be delayed, says ICC

IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal: SC warns N Srinivasan of conflict of interest

IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy: N Srinivasan increasingly cornered by Supreme Court’s observations

India vs Australia 2014: Are India as bad overseas as they are made out to be?

Cricket Australia’s marketing gimmick strips umpires of their independence

Australia’s top form in ODIs: Early warning for teams heading to ICC World Cup 2015

Myth Busting — did Sachin Tendulkar’s rate of scoring become slower in the second half of his career?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

4 signs you have vitamin K deficiency

Bigg Boss 8: By fighting with Upen Patel has Sonali Raut lost her only friend in the house?

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

लारा दत्ता ने फिटनेस प्रेमियों के लिए नया ऐप लांच किया

Panasonic launches Eluga I smartphone for Rs 9,490

Anupam Kher: Modi’s development mantra will work in Kashmir

Micromax Bolt AD4500: The budget smartphone available on eBay for just Rs 5,290

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here