World Cup 2019: Why is Virat Kohli not turning fifties to hundreds?

Updated: Jul 05, 2019, 07:30 IST | Harit N Joshi

It is just his selfless cricket in attempting to put the team in good positions and is nothing to worry about, feel former greats

World Cup 2019: Why is Virat Kohli not turning fifties to hundreds?
Virat Kohli

Harit N JoshiLeeds: Skipper Virat Kohli has scored five consecutive half-centuries and has looked the most dominant Indian batsman in the World Cup. He has been tested in all conditions — a flat pitch at The Oval to the tricky tracks at Southampton and Manchester. Kohli has looked most fluent and at ease as compared to his teammates. Only Rohit Sharma comes close to him in terms of strokeplay.

The difference between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharna in this tournament is that the latter has converted those scratchy starts into four centuries while Kohli, despite dominating attacks, has not been able to post a three-figure score. For a world-class player like Kohli, who is known for big hundreds, it is unusual for him to be missing out on centuries (he has 41 ODI tons in 226 innings). This is not the Kohli world cricket knows.

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Former India captain and ex-chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, who was instrumental in giving Kohli his international break, felt he could be restricted in his approach knowing that the middle-order is not very strong. "That [middle-order factor] could be the reason Kohli is trying hard to accelerate after getting the team to a decent position. But I don't think not being able to score a hundred is a concern. I think he is saving it for the semi-final and final. He is a big-match player," Vengsarkar told mid-day yesterday from Manchester.

Dilip Vengsarkar and Farokh Engineer
Dilip Vengsarkar and Farokh Engineer

Manchester-based former India stumper Farokh Engineer said: "After scoring 50, you see the ball like a football. You are confident and would like to play your shots and that's where you can lose your wicket. Virat is not playing selfish cricket, he is playing for the team," said Engineer. During his 66 against England at Edgbaston, Kohli was caught at backward point while trying to slice one off Liam Plunkett. His dismissal against West Indies was difficult to believe, pulling one to Darren Bravo at midwicket when on 72. Kohli too couldn't believe it as this is one shot he plays to perfection.

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He gifted his wicket to Mohammad Nabi during his 67-run knock against Afghanistan. Nabi bowled a very wide delivery but Kohli in his attempt to cut, ended up with a thick edge to short third man. Kohli also left everyone stunned when he walked off on 72, trying to pull Mohammad Amir's short ball that went to wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed. There was no appeal from the Pakistanis and no spike in the UltraEdge. Against Australia, where Kohli scored 82, Pat Cummins got him with a slower delivery that went straight to cover.

Kohli doesn't seem too concerned about not converting his 50s into hundreds. "I don't need to sit down and assess how to convert those (fifties into hundreds), I have done that a lot of times. I'm really enjoying the way I'm batting at the moment. It's just about contributing to the team," Kohli said at the toss before the Bangladesh game. India are now up against Sri Lanka (on Saturday), a team against whom he scored two consecutive centuries in the last series in 2017. Over to Headingley.

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