Kolkata: Even as Virat Kohli is compared to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar given his stroke-making ability and his affinity to garner records is quite like that of the Master Blaster, the Delhi dasher time and again comes close to performing the role of Mr Dependable, a title almost copyrighted to another former India captain, Rahul Dravid.
On Saturday when India were tottering at 23-3 chasing 119 on a rank turner in a rain-curtailed 18-overs-a-side game here, the Men in Blue relied on Kohli's dependability once again to escape the clutches of defeat and a possible pre-mature exit from the World T20 tournament.
What a knock!
And Kohli replied perfectly, notching up an unbeaten 37-ball 55 studded with seven exquisitely executed boundaries and one hit over the ropes as India achieved the target with six wickets and 13 balls to spare. Kohli has notched up three 40-plus scores in his last five T20Is and has remained unbeaten on all three victorious counts (56* vs Sri Lanka on March 1, 41* vs Bangladesh on March 6) including Saturday's fine show against Pakistan. It's this consistency that has seen him boast of an impressive average of 53.55 in T20Is, the best in the country.
Aptly, skipper Dhoni was lavish in his praise for his most reliable No 3 batsman. "It's Virat's hunger to perform and willingness to take up challenge that sets him apart from the rest," said Dhoni at the post-match press conference at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.
India's Virat Kohli (right) and Yuvraj Singh run between the wickets during the World T20 tie against Pakistan in Kolkata on Saturday. Pic/AFP
"Kohli is always keen to contribute, and to ensure he can do that, he prepares well and takes care of his fitness and other things. Most importantly, whenever he gets a start, he ensures he converts it into a big innings," added Dhoni, proceeding to reveal just how the 27-year-old has an uncanny, yet impeccable ability to thrive under pressure.
The Virat way
"Different individuals handle pressure differently. Some go for big shots to try and get out of pressure situations. But the best way to deal with pressure when you are the crease is to take a single and get to the other end. It makes you feel better and also shows positive intent because you've taken a run and the scoreboard is ticking. Then, every batsman has his strengths.
Virat Kohli after his fifty. Pic/ AFP
"For some it's the cut, while for others, it may be the flick shot. So when the ball is there in your area, you should go for your shot, otherwise take a single and get to the other end. And if you see Virat and his batting, that's exactly what he does.
"Another thing that gives Virat an edge is that he likes to push hard. He runs hard and so loves batting with those who can run hard with him because running hard is the easiest way to score runs," explained Dhoni. And rightly, Kohli accumulated almost 30 per cent of his score against the Pakistanis on Saturday by running hard between the wickets (19 singles and one double).