India needed a miraculous performance to keep their series hopes alive. Being Chennai, MS Dhoni had to call it right at the toss and he did. No team has won chasing a target in this series and Dhoni & Co just followed the trend. They needed runs on the board and who better than Virat Kohli to cater to that need. Cometh the hour, cometh the man!
Now, here is an outstanding stat: Of the 23 ODI hundreds Kohli has scored, 21 have eventuated in win. It’s almost unbelievable! With Kohli, you can see his passion on the ground, talent, the skill set, emotions. What you do not see is the man’s sense of occasion. He just rises to challenges.
Virat Kohli celebrates his century against South Africa at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. Pic/PTI
Kohli should bat at 3
Tougher the situation, the higher he elevates himself. There was a lot of discussion in the media before the series started about the batting order, but for me, Kohli is a No 3 player, a tone-setter for the game. He should insist on batting in that position. I remember Achrekar Sir advising Sachin Tendulkar when he was about to make his debut in ‘A’ division club cricket in Mumbai. The advice to young Sachin was that the captain of his team should be told that he will bat at No 4 and he should not compromise on it throughout his cricket career. Sachin stayed at that number at least in Test cricket.
Also Read: Skipper MS Dhoni hails Virat Kohli's mindset
Coming back to Virat, what makes him so special is that for starters, he has great technique. After that, come all the other ingredients like temperament, hunger, anger, fitness to bat for long periods etc. If you watch closely, his body alignment is correct for every shot he plays. The reason for that is his head position. If you happen to draw a line from his head towards the line of the ball you would, more often than not, get a straight line. Now, that’s what I call head positioning.
The shot he played to a delivery from Imran Tahir in Chennai was memorable. He hit it straight, but with a cross bat; some sort of a whip, like a forehand you would play in tennis. It’s his USP. I am reminded of the current chief selector Sandeep Patil when he plays that shot.
The Indian bowlers picked up wickets all the time to peg South Africa back and Harbhajan Singh in particular needs a pat on the back. He spelt doom on the left-handed Quinton de Kock and David Miller. Both were classical dismissals — De Kock caught sharply in slips and Miller trapped in front of the stumps. Harbhajan’s performance augurs well for the hosts.
India won the game easily in the end by 35 runs but my piece will be incomplete if I don’t mention AB de Villiers. He keeps every cricket watcher spellbound.
Some of the shots he plays are unreal, never tried before. There should be a statutory warning for cricketer watching an AB innings: “Dangerous, don’t try this at home.”
Amol Muzumdar is a former India ‘A’ player