It’s almost scary the way Virat Kohli is going these days. He has cut to shreds the much-venerated law of averages. In Twenty20 this year, he has gone beyond being consistent – he has become infallible. It’s a purple patch without compare and he now towers above everyone else, in this format at least, with the exception of AB de Villiers, his `partner in crime’ for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.
Virat had already made his mark as the ultimate chase-master in one-dayers, having won India a plethora of games with his willow. He has now brought the same felicity into T20 cricket, and some more. It’s a fitter, tougher and more intimidating Virat that we are watching today. And it has left the cricket world awed and enraptured.
His T20 numbers are phenomenal this year – averaging close to hundred in T20 cricket is nothing short of incredible. And he seems to be getting better and better.
The two qualities which stand out in Virat’s batting are the way he controls the game, especially while chasing, and the precision of his stroke-making. Virat’s body language is deceptive. He comes across as fidgety, twirling the bat before every delivery, checking his pads, flexing his neck, looking a bit restive… but there is profound calm inside which helps him play with amazing control. Nothing fazes him, whether it’s the regular fall of wickets at the other end or repeated failures of the other stars in the team. Kohli, in an interview to a magazine on Tuesday, himself says, “I’ve never been this calm in my head. I am aiming for improvement not just as a cricketer but also as a person.”
Even when Virat was a tyro in international cricket, he had displayed remarkable self-belief and the mindset of a champion. He goes into every battle with the firm belief that no task is unattainable. Over the years, he has developed the resources to match this lofty ambition.
That Virat is a stroke-maker par excellence is well known. What sets him apart from most of his peers and contemporaries is the precision with which he executes his range. Virat is a 360 degree stroke-player who has an exceptional understanding of the cricket ground and match situations.
His innate cricketing intelligence lets him zero in on the best response to a delivery and decide what stroke to play and how to play it. Thus, he places his strokes in the exact spot he wants them to go, piercing the field at will and driving the opposition crazy. His control makes his batting virtually risk-free.
He has supple wrists, amazing hands and the fitness and physical requisites for the job. Some of his trademark strokes, like the slapped cover drive, the fierce cut, the lofted ones over mid-off and mid-on and the flick-drive between deep mid-wicket and long-on, are now part of cricket lore.
What makes Virat such a formidable player and feared competitor is his never-ending zeal for victory and the way he goes about achieving that goal. His ability to soak in pressure and, in fact, turn it into an advantage makes him the biggest challenge for bowlers the world over at this point.
His desire to be the best and then keep improving is what drives him and sets him apart. On Monday night, he injured his palm severely while fielding against KKR but still went out and scored a match-winning unbeaten 75 to see his team through.”It’s a big split, my hand is starting to pain now, looks like I’ll get seven or eight stitches. But I don’t mind even 10 stitches as long as we keep winning,” Virat said after the match.
Virat’s absolute commitment to the game is also illustrated by the way he fields and leads. He is a livewire fielder who never flinches from throwing himself at the ball. As a captain, he is expressive and completely immersed in the game all the time.