World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli and the art of captaincy
When Virat first got the leadership, I thought he'd have to curb his emotions to succeed but he's displaying statesmanship that would put to shame many of the world's political leaders
Some of Pakistan's dedicated cricket fans plead with their players; "It doesn't matter if you don't win the World Cup but you must beat India." Seven times now in seven tries the Pakistan players either haven't been listening or they are too burdened by the weight of expectation to comply. At Old Trafford, Virat Kohli's highly efficient machine administered the biggest beating to their arch-rivals in a World Cup match."
From the moment Rohit Sharma slipped into top gear — dispatching a steady diet of short deliveries to and over the boundaries on both sides of the wicket — an Indian victory was on the cards. Rohit's second century in the World Cup sealed a big score for India. Along the way, Kohli added his stamp to the hammering and in the process became comfortably the quickest man to 11,000 ODI runs.
Virat's kind gesture
Not only does Kohli have an enviable record in this form of the game but he's now bidding for the Nobel Peace prize. Close on the heels of a magnanimous plea to Indian fans at The Oval to stop booing Australia's former skipper Steven Smith, Kohli kindly checked with fast bowler Wahab Riaz after he took a tumble in his follow through and then walked on appeal when the replay showed he hadn't hit the delivery.
When Kohli first took over the captaincy I thought he'd have to curb his emotions to succeed but he's displaying statesmanship that would put to shame many of the world's political leaders. In the process he's maintained a high standard of captaincy.
He did so in this crucial game by continuing to look for wickets and the one that finally broke Pakistan's resistance was a beauty from left-arm Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav. It curved and dipped to first draw Babar Azam's bat away from his pad and then spun sharply into the stumps like a heat seeking missile.
It was the perfect left-arm Chinaman's delivery reminding me of a day I spent as a kid listening to my grandfather tell of a similar delivery that he believed helped Australia win the Ashes in 1936-37. He described the delivery Chuck Fleetwood-Smith produced to beat and bowl England's champion batsman Walter Hammond and revive Australia's hopes in the series after they'd slipped to a two-nil deficit.
Vic Richardson's description perfectly fitted the delivery I witnessed from Kuldeep.
When Kuldeep quickly followed up with the dangerous Fakhar Zaman's wicket and then the irrepressible Hardik Pandya chimed in with two successive ambushes, the game was finally up for Pakistan. India, under Kohli's strong leadership have established themselves as the form team and not even a couple of injuries to star players have slowed their progress.
Wounded, yet strong
First, they lost Shikhar Dhawan to a thumb injury; no problem KL Rahul produced a solid half-century at the top of the order. Then it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who went down with a tight hamstring; no problem, Vijay Shankar stepped in to pluck a wicket with his first delivery.
Bhuvneshwar's injury may be a blessing in disguise, as it means the deserving Mohammed Shami will get some much-needed bowling before the knockout matches commence.
India are now perfectly placed to top the table for the knockout stage, which would mean a return trip to Old Trafford for a semi-final against the No. 4 team. So far India's World Cup is going according to script.
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe
World Cup 2019: MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma cried during semifinal. Here's why