India’s batting star Virat Kohli has had a quiet time at the Asia Cup thus far, but it’s unlikely that he will remain inconspicuous for much longer. Watch out, foes
Virat Kohli. Pic/AFP
India have been in Sri Lanka for over a week now, but barely has Virat Kohli been in the news. The former skipper has flown remarkably under the radar as the attention has centred around the weather, India’s team for the World Cup and the imminent return to competitive action of KL Rahul.
Kohli has had a quiet time of it at the Asia Cup thus far. In his only hit, against Pakistan last Saturday in Pallekele, he lasted six deliveries. A cracking cover-drive off Naseem Shah that sped to the boundary seemed to suggest he was in the mood, but he was defeated by the two-paced nature of the surface as he chopped a fairly harmless delivery from Shaheen Shah Afridi onto his stumps. Two days later against Nepal, he dropped a sitter at cover to reprieve Aasif Sheikh off the seventh ball of the match and watched the batsman bring up an excellent half-century. Kohli himself was not required to bat as openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill hunted down the 145-run target with consummate ease.
Tough times behind
It’s unlikely that Kohli will remain inconspicuous for much longer; that’s simply not in the natural order of things. It was at this tournament, in the T20 format, that a little over a year back, Kohli snapped a run of 1,020 days without an international hundred with his maiden T20I ton against Afghanistan. The weight of the world, bearing down on his sturdy shoulders, was finally lifted; Kohli has since hammered five more centuries—three in ODIs and two in Tests—and appears to have rediscovered the touch that made him the world’s premier batsman across formats for five years between 2015 and 2019.
Any doubts that Kohli might struggle to make the transition from captain to just another player in the side, albeit the most accomplished and the seniormost after his successor, have been emphatically allayed in the last 20 months. The ultimate team man, he has bought into the vision of Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid and from his returns in the last 12 months, it is clear that he is enjoying the grind of cricket all over again. These are heartening signs with the World Cup less than a month away.
Kohli is the only one in this squad to have tasted ultimate success at a World Cup; in 2011, when he was still in his early days as an international cricketer, he left his mark with a sparkling century in the opener against Bangladesh and a crucial 35 in the final against Sri Lanka. His experience is a reservoir several of the younger lads in their first World Cup can tap into, making him a priceless asset beyond just the mellifluous runs certain to cascade from his willow.
No. of runs scored by Virat Kohli in 12 ODIs this year @ 47.88