Virat Kohli is touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. So naturally, a lot was expected from the right-hander in the recently concluded ODI series against South Africa, but Team India’s terrible failure proved once again that they have huge flaws when they tour abroad. Kohli – India’s in-form batsman managed to score just 31 runs in the first two ODIs, as a team that had won six consecutive ODI titles in 2013, was routed by South Africa. Thus, everybody looked forward to the likes of Test specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara and Zaheer Khan to salvage some pride for the Indian team in the two-match Test series.
But then Virat Kohli is a fighter. He is one of those rare champions who would take their game to the next level, when there is enormous pressure on the team. On the first day of the first Test match at Johannesburg, he showed everyone who categorised him as an ‘ODI specialist’, as to what he was capable of.
Kohli came in to bat when India had lost two wickets for just 24 runs. South Africa’s two top seamers – Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel - were trying their best to intimidate the Indian top order. That’s when Virat Kohli walked in. He was up for the challenge.
Before he had come to the crease, Indian batsmen were seen ducking to bouncers and most of the shots they played were off the backfoot. But once Kohli walked in, the same deliveries which were being seen off to the keeper, were slapped towards square leg for boundaries. Whenever the seamers went too full and slightly loose, Kohli drove with extreme conviction, as if it was a turf from the sub-continent where he is used to hitting big knocks.
Occasionally, he misjudged the length of a ball, but whenever he went for his strokes, they came from the middle of his bat and it was a pleasant sight to see a young Indian batsman hammering a quality pace attack on the same ground where India lost the first ODI match by 141 runs.
There has been this frequent talk about how the Indian team will cope without the likes of Sachin Tendukar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly. The speculations will continue, but the likeability factor about Kohli is that he is making sure he proves himself all across the world against all kind of oppositions.
Many also believe that Kohli is the right man to fill Tendulkar’s shoes. Well, to that I must say, those are massive shoes to fill. Kohli grew up idolising the Little Master, and his determination clearly shows he has learnt the habit of putting a prize on his wicket from Tendulkar himself.
There will never be another Sachin Tendulkar, in fact, nobody would even get close to his aura and those unmatchable records of the Master Blaster. But one thing is for sure, we all like to see Kohli bat, and while he is there, Indian cricket seems to be in safe hands. The Proteas might have realised it by now, that there is a man in the current Indian squad, who is determined to make his skipper, his team and even Tendulkar proud with those gutsy knocks. The incredible century at Johannesburg on December 18, 2013, was another perfect example of it.