Virat Kohli has become India's go-to man in run-chases

Virat Kohli”¦has become a dexterous destroyer of targets, however imposing © AFP

By Karthik Parimal

 

Virat Kohli, 23, has become India’s most reliable batsman during recent times. He effortlessly plays the role of a protagonist in either setting up or chasing down mammoth totals. A few questions were raised by the cynics when he was appointed the vice-captain of the Indian team before the commencement of Asia Cup, but Kohli has characteristically let his bat answer the doubting Thomases. He seems to be relishing the added responsibility, as his performances in all departments of the game have looked solid since his elevation to vice-captaincy.

 

Although Kohli has been playing international cricket for just four years now, he has had plenty of successes to celebrate in the 85 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) he has played thus far. His knock against Pakistan on Sunday wasn’t the first time he had done something extravagant. In fact, Kohli has quietly become a specialist in chasing down big totals. Seven of his 11 centuries have come when India has batted second; and not surprisingly, India ended up on the winning side on all seven occasions.

 

Below are a few of Kohli’s splendid knocks that steered India out of troubled waters during run-chases:


133* vs Sri Lanka at Hobart, Feb 28, 2012:

 

India had its task cut out in this match. They needed to chase within 40 overs, Sri Lanka’s total of 320 to give themselves a chance to qualify for the final. India were thus left with the humungous task of chasing 321 at a little over eight runs per over if the latter wished to stay alive in the tournament.

 

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir got India off to a flyer, but the target soon began to look unattainable with Sehwag’s departure. Out came Kohli and made mincemeat of Sri Lanka’s bowling. He took almost all the bowlers to the cleaners and did not even spare Lasith Malinga, the most feared bowler in ODIs. India chased down the target in just 36.4 overs, at an astonishing rate of 8.75 per over. Kohli remained unbeaten on 133 of just 86 balls. He later went on to describe this knock as his career-best innings.

 

Unfortunately for India, Sri Lanka beat Australia in the next match and shut all doors of entry into the finals. Nevertheless, Kohli’s innings gave a glimpse into India’s future.

183 vs Pakistan at Dhaka, March 18, 2012:

 

The significance attached to a contest between arch-rivals India and Pakistan is unparalleled. Pakistan had already qualified for the finals whereas the Indians were morally beaten after a defeat to Bangladesh before this match. Things continued to look bleak for the Indians as Pakistan set the former a target of 330 after a tremendous double-century partnership between openers Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed.

 

India lost Gautam Gambhir early in its chase, but Kohli went on to score a massive 183, his highest in ODIs. He was well supported at the other end by Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma. With Kohli as the protagonist, India went on to register its highest ever run-chase in ODIs. Kohli’s efforts were best summed up by Pakistan’s skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who went on to say that this was the best innings he had ever seen till date.

 

Also, it looks as though Dhaka has become Kohli’s favourite venue, as this was his fourth century here. In the 9 matches he has played at Dhaka, Kohli has scored 732 runs at an average of 122.00.

118 vs Australia at Vishakapatnam, October 20, 2010:

 

It was a Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey show as the duo smashed 111* and 69 respectively to propel Australia to 289 for three3. The Australians further tightened their grip on the match as they got quickly got rid of the inexperienced Indian openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. However, Kohli and Yuvraj Singh got through the tough phase and put on a 137-run partnership. Kohli’s 118 of 121 balls did not go in vain as the Indians cruised to a five-wicket victory in the end despite a sizeable total on the board.

 

This was Kohli’s first century against Australia.

107 vs Sri Lanka at Kolkata, December 24, 2009:

 

The first two matches of this five-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka were nail-biters with India winning the first game by three runs and then Sri Lanka fighting back to clinch the next one in the last over by three wickets. India later won the third ODI by seven wickets, but was in a spot of bother in the fourth ODI at Kolkata when Sri Lanka posted 315 after batting first, thanks to Upul Tharanga’s ton.

 

Despite losing stalwarts like Sehwag and Sachin within the first four overs of the chase, Gambhir and Kohli remained unfazed and hammered the Sri Lankan bowling to all corners of the ground. Gambhir amassed 150 whereas Kohli played the role of a second fiddle to perfection by scoring 107.

 

India went on to win the game and the series 3-1.

117 vs West Indies at Vishakapatnam, December 2, 2011:

 

In reply to West Indies’ decent total of 269, India got off to a poor start losing Parthiv Patel and Gautam Gambhir even before the team’s score could reach 30. It was the familiar duo of Rohit Sharma and Kohli that left the West Indian bowlers looking helpless as they began to plunder runs at will. Kohli ended his innings on 117 whereas Rohit remained unbeaten on 90. The knock ensured that India sailed home with eleven balls to spare and go 2-0 up in the series.

 

Kohli scored 243 runs in five innings during that series at an average of 60.75. He also scored 80 in the fifth ODI that Indiaeventually won by 34 runs.

 

(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)