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Of stitches and that 'Champion' Virat Kohli

The purists resting in peace would surely have been disturbed at the sound of ball hitting Kohli's bat. After all cricket in that era never saw a batsman with a split webbing hit a century in a 15-over innings.

Of stitches and that 'Champion' Virat Kohli

When he pointed at his left hand after his favourite pastime of hitting centuries, many wondered what Virat Kohli was gesturing about. After all, there was no surprise in what he did. Virat Kohli hitting centuries is as scheduled these days as the 9 p.m. prime time news show. It has to happen.

Centuries being hit in 15-over games would have been laughed off in the Long Room at Lord's about not more than two and a half decades ago, before that it didn't even qualify as a cricket topic.

But it happened on May 18, 2016. And it won't be a surprise if some of those Victorian faces looked over their shoulder, surprised in their graves.

It could have been two centuries in a 15-over innings, had Gayle not walked back after his nonchalant 73 off 32 balls, a strike rate of 228.13, which was even better than Kohli's 226.00 in his 50-ball 113.

211 for 3 in 15 overs also means, in short, that 300 is under threat in a T20 innings. That's almost comic, not actually though. You still have to score off whatever bowlers deliver - good or bad.

Image Credit: BCCI

Whenever Kohli tried to be unconventional, like that reverse paddle he missed off Axar Patel, he failed; whenever he tried to play proper cricketing shots, he excelled.

That's precisely the difference between him and the 360-degree AB de Villiers, who satisfied the law of averages on Wednesday - with his duck.

And that's what makes those two provide two different flavours and confuse fans what to choose if they had to pick one, like that child at the ice cream parlour trying to decide what he wants in his waffle cone.

For the record-keepers, it was Kohli's fourth hundred in last 25 matches. Before IPL 9 started, he had none. That goes with 12 half-centuries and 1490 runs, 865 of which have come in this IPL season alone in 13 matches at a strike rate of 155.01 with 36 sixes and 72 fours.

The purists resting in peace would surely have been disturbed at the sound of ball hitting Kohli's bat. And you can’t blame that, because hitting the sweet spot with such regularity was never imagined in that era.

The next man after Kohli on the IPL-9 batting charts, team-mate De Villiers, is 268 runs behind. That number is good for an allrounder in an entire season.

But the captain in Kohli is not just enjoying his own success.

Image Credit: BCCI

The best for Gayle this IPL before Thursday was 49. His first fifty of the season came in a must-win game and at customary rocket pace. If anybody, it delighted Kohli the most, so much that he congratulated the Jamaican with the 'Champion' dance that West Indies made famous during their World T20 triumph last month.

That after the Caribbean giant almost sold his skipper a dummy, leaving him stranded but eventually unharmed after Axar missed his direct hit from short third-man. Then Gayle ran, or did not, twos almost reluctantly.

Kohli understood that, stopped pressing his not-so-fluid running partner for that extra run, and instead looked for big shots every ball. The rain-shortened 15-over innings helped that approach and Kohli's form did the rest.

Image Credit: BCCI

In one of his columns on Cricketnext, Ayaz Memon best described the phenomenal success Kohli has met over the last two years.

In the mental aspect, it appeared initially that he was short-fused, tantrum-prone and therefore vulnerable. He has gotten over that through self-actualisation, realising that controlled aggression pays the best dividends. Cricket has become an extension of his personality, Ayaz said.

That Kohli had 7-8 stitches in his webbing and still played strokes without any inhibition substantiates another of Ayaz's comment - that he, along with De Villiers, is perhaps the first of bionic cricketers.

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