Virat Kohli – the mainstay of the Indian batting line-up, has been receiving massive praise from the cricket fraternity for his ability to soak pressure when the going gets tough.
His unbeaten match-winning knock against a formidable Australian bowling line-up, in a virtual quarter-final clash of the World T20, was one such act. The dynamic cricketer has done this so many times in the past that his fans now expect such performances every time he steps on to the field.
With the help of his sheer hardwork and strong will, the Delhi batsman has taken his game to another level. His miraculous 55* against Pakistan and 82* against Australia and a splendid 89* against eventual champions West Indies in WT20, illustrates how well he reads the game.
It seems as if he has started to meander his aggression in the right direction. His sheer chutzpah and ability to take up the challenge head-on make him a dangerous batsman.
Here are five factors that make Virat Kohli a superstar in the gentleman’s game.
Conventional style: In the slam-bang version of the game, where most of the batsmen try cheeky shots to score runs at a rapid pace, Kohli has a knack of playing with the straight bat and hitting conventional shots. His ability to find gaps and hit boundaries at will, even when the ball is not coming on to the bat, puts the opposition bowlers and skippers under immense pressure. England’s Joe Root and Kohli are possibly the only two batsmen in contemporary cricket who can snatch the game away even while playing proper copy book shots in the shortest format. Art of finding gaps with ease and playing in the ‘V’ makes their batting look even more beautiful.
Fitness: It is certainly an important part in the life of a sportsperson. But in the Indian cricket team, Kohli is a fitness freak, who religiously hits the gym to strengthen his body. That’s the reason why he is one of the best fielders in the Indian team and an outstanding runner between the wickets. His sprints in WT20, especially against Australia and West Indies were a treat to watch. The way he ran between the wickets and put the fielding units under constant pressure shows how fitness can help you push your limits and achieve the target with ease.
Finisher: At a time when many are of the view that an ageing Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s has lost his mojo to finish off the games, run-machine Kohli seems to have taken up the role for the Indian team. His record while chasing has always been exceptional, but the way he has been finishing games of late for Team India has proved that he has taken his game to next level. The big-match player is emerging as a new finisher for his side. Considering the fact that he is not a big hitter of the ball, his ability to pace innings to perfection while chasing – irrespective of the target, big or small – forces the opposition to doff their hats to the stylish cricketer.
Consistency: This is the hallmark of his batting and that’s the reason the 27-year-old has been the mainstay of Indian cricket team for the last half-a-decade or so, in all forms of the game. Even with so many big-hitters and dangerous batsmen in world cricket, Kohli has managed to make a special place for himself. In limited-overs cricket, he has a stupendous average of over 50 (in ODIs & T20Is), with 25 tons and 52 half-centuries. In Test cricket, his average is a shade above 44, with 11 hundreds and 12 fifties under his belt. More than anything else, his stature is growing with every passing match.
New facet of his personality: Kohli is known for his flamboyance and on-field antics, but of late, he has shown a new side of his personality. He praised tainted Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir openly for his memorable spell against India in the Asia Cup T20. In fact, he then went a step further to gift him a bat ahead of the high-profile cash against the arch-rivals in WT20. His demeanor has changed significantly over the years. Now one can easily feel the tranquility in his personality, which was missing earlier. He bats more purposefully now, which is certainly a good sign for the future of Indian cricket.
Barring the forgettable England tour, the Delhi-lad has hardly disappointed with the willow. The way he has been batting, he is not just destined to break many cricket records in the near future but also looks set to become an icon for young cricketers as well.