By the end of the five-match series between India and Sri Lanka, even though Virat Kohli was adjudged as the Player of the Tournament, the stats showed he was ten runs behind his counterpart Angelo Mathews, who ended up being the highest run-scorer with 329 runs. While Mathews stood out as an exception in what was a forgettable tour for the Lankans, it was Kohli who could have ended up scoring more runs than the Lankan all-rounder.
But this is where Kohli won praises from all corners by promoting Ambati Rayudu to bat at number three – a position which has been his over the years. For someone, who has not had a great year, it was a great gesture from the stand-in skipper to promote a youngster ahead of him, to give him more confidence. Rayudu too, made sure he didn’t disappoint his captain and slammed his maiden ODI ton. He had to wait for too long for that moment to arrive despite excelling in domestic cricket. Rayudu not only continued to bat at the same spot in the next few matches, but has also strengthened his case for India's squad for the forthcoming ICC World Cup.
While the result of the last ODI match against Sri Lanka was inconsequential, Kohli made sure India registered a whitewash under his captaincy. While Ajantha Mendis created opportunities for his team to win their first match of the series, Kohli made sure to bat till the end and finished the innings in style by smashing Mendis for a six – something which MS Dhoni is known for.
Kohli, who has a special liking for the Sri Lankan bowling attack, once again showed why he is a genius when it comes to chasing totals. Kohli's 21st ODI ton was his 13th while chasing a target.
Experts also hailed Kohli's change in attitude, as he has become a more composed player in the last few series. Post reaching his 21st ODI ton, Kohli didn't celebrate much but let out a roar only after he had hit the winning runs. Even after accepting the trophy, he handed it over to debutante Kedar Jadhav and moved to the side of the frame. From taking batting powerplay early in the innings, to being aggressive in all aspects of the game, Kohli led India from the front.
For reasons unknown, we couldn't see the Lankan resilience right throughout the series. One might doubt if they are Lions anymore, but that must not deprive Kohli from getting accolades for his great show as skipper.
At the age of 26, Kohli now has 21 international centuries to his name. For those who think it isn't a big achievement, Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene has so far managed to score 17 ODI tons during his fabulous 16-year-old career. While it would be too early to say that Kohli is India's greatest ODI batsman ever, without a doubt he has become a master of chasing all sorts of totals.
Many believed that with him not being in the greatest of form, the captaincy pressure against Sri Lanka could further hamper his batting. But that wasn't the case and Kohli himself would be extremely proud of the way he led the young Indian team. However like everybody else, Kohli would know that in order to really prove his mettle as an Indian skipper, he needs to do well in the first Test of the forthcoming challenging tour of Australia.
While 21 ODI tons is no mean feat, if Kohli manages to hit one against Australia in the Brisbane Test, it would only further convince us all that Indian cricket's future is in safe hands.