Get the app

India vs New Zealand | King Kohli Searches for Beast Mode on Home Stretch

Virat Kohli is ninth in the list of top run-getters in the World Cup 2019, with 442 runs at an average in excess of 63. These are great numbers, right? Chances are that most batsmen around the world would have taken such numbers happily if offered to them before the tournament.

Karthik Lakshmanan |July 8, 2019, 4:38 PM IST
Indian skipper Virat Kohli. (Pic: AP)

Manchester: Virat Kohli is ninth in the list of top run-getters in the World Cup 2019, with 442 runs at an average in excess of 63. These are great numbers, right? Chances are that most batsmen around the world would have taken such numbers happily if offered to them before the tournament.

But somehow, it doesn't feel enough, does it? Is it Rohit Sharma's utter dominance that has overshadowed even Kohli? Or is it the fact that Kohli hasn't yet scored a century, despite making five half-centuries? The only other time Kohli has failed to convert half-centuries to tons five consecutive times was in 2017. But back then, he was unbeaten on three occasions. This World Cup is indeed a rare tournament where the century machine is yet to open his account. Sorry Kohli, but these are the inhuman standards that you set for yourself.

Without going overboard with the topic, it looks like the Law of Averages that failed to catch up with Rohit is instead trying to catch up with Kohli. Rohit has been stunning with his consistency, but it's also a fact that he has enjoyed good fortune.

He has been dropped early by South Africa, Australia, England and Bangladesh. Pakistan missed a couple of run out chances. It's incredible that he has made each of those chances count.

Kohli, on the other hand, has been out in very un-Kohli like fashions. Very soft dismissals. He cut Mohammad Nabi straight to point. He pulled a half-tracker from Jason Holder straight to mid-wicket. He steered Liam Plunkett straight to backward point. He pulled a harmless short ball from Mustafizur Rahman flat to deep square-leg. He has almost always paid for his first mistake.

Image: Twitter Image: Twitter

But century or not, nothing has been able to stop Kohli from producing match-winning knocks. It's just that he is doing it by playing second fiddle. He might not always be the most glorious batsman in the side, which doesn't happen too often, but he's still winning games.

Kohli has taken the role of being anchor, especially after Shikhar Dhawan's departure. He has played silent roles at one end allowing the others to bat around him.

When Dhawan scored the century against Australia, Kohli batted until the 50th over. When Rohit scored the century against Pakistan, Kohli batted till the 48th over. When Rohit fell early against Afghanistan and West Indies, Kohli took over and scored more runs than any other batsman in the games.

Here's a trivia that says a lot about Kohli's approach this World Cup: he has hit only two sixes in the entire tournament, and yet managed a strike-rate above 95.

table kohli

And here's him describing his approach himself, ahead of the semifinal against New Zealand.

"It's been a different kind of role that I've had to play in this World Cup and, as the captain of the team, I have been open to playing any kind of role that the team wants me to," he said. "It's great that Rohit is scoring so consistently which means that coming in the later half of the innings you have to play a different role which is controlling the middle overs and letting guys like Hardik (Pandya), Kedar (Jadhav), MS (Dhoni) in the past few games, and now Rishabh (Pant), come out and express themselves.

"Personal milestones honestly is something that no-one ever focuses on. Rohit said the same thing the other day. He is only trying to do the best for the team and in that process special things happen which is something that I have always believed in in my career so far. I could never imagine that I could get the number of hundreds I have and the only focus has always been the team."

It's clear Kohli isn't desperate to be the man driving India's campaign, and is more than happy to be the passenger in the front seat passing snacks and drinks and doing other things to make life comfortable for the driver. He is rich in praise of the driver's skills too.

He called Rohit the best ODI batsman after the game against Bangladesh. He stressed on the same now, and hoped he would make two more tons to give India the World Cup.

Kohli is now facing perhaps his biggest one or two matches in his career. He has achieved plenty, but leading the country in the World Cup semifinal stage ought to count as the top-most stage.

Legacies of captains, and even some batsmen, are defined by World Cups. Whatever happens in the next one or two games, MS Dhoni will always be defined by that six and the bat twirl at Mumbai in 2011. Kapil Dev will forever be the man who changed Indian cricket around in 1983.

Both those captains left their personal impact in the respective World Cups too; Dhoni in the final in 2011, and Kapil with the 175* against Zimbabwe in 1983.

It will be absolutely no surprise if Kohli goes from anchor to driver in the knockouts, for he is a big match player. But even if that doesn't happen, he will not mind playing second fiddle so long as he gets the cup in his hands.

Related stories

Also Watch

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4027 115
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 4366 104
5 Australia 3270 99
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 India 8411 263
4 Australia 5471 261
5 South Africa 4407 259
see more