Lord of 22-Yard

Virat Kohli

It’s staggering to note that Virat Kohli has scored close to 2500 runs in all formats in this calendar year. What’s more staggering are the contexts in which he has got these runs

Pictures: Viart kohli celebrating century in Mumbai against England; Kohli with team India


The incredible trail of runs that Virat Kohli is leaving behind and the success story that Team India is writing under his captaincy is a never-seen-before phenomenon

He had scored the most incredible double ton a while back. A double century that had sucked the life out of England and ensured India would go on to take a 3-0 lead in the series thanks to yet another stellar show by Ravi Ashwin. On a pitch that was offering turn and bounce, it was batsmanship of the highest pedigree. However, Virat was not done yet. He never is. Within moments of getting out he was seen standing in the dressing room all set to go out in the quest for ten English wickets. And when he grassed Johnny Bairstow’s reverse sweep off Ashwin, it was as if the world had collapsed around him. That’s the Virat mantra. Excellence and perfection. That’s the mantra he has infused among the team and there’s little doubt this is looking a champion outfit which is perched at the top of the ICC’s Test rankings.

It’s staggering to note that Virat has scored close to 2500 runs in all formats in this calendar year. What’s more staggering are the contexts in which he has got these runs. India was in a spot of bother in Mumbai at 366-7 when Virat and a very able Jayant Yadav pushed the score to 631. From there on it could only be one-way traffic. And it was. From almost impossible situations Virat has won India games in the world T20 against Australia and Pakistan and did the same against Australia in the ODI’s at the start of the year. That nothing is impossible is what he has brought on to the table and that’s what makes each of his runs special.

Ravi Ashwin had said it nicely, “You give Virat an impossible situation and it will get the best out of him. He will just say let me show you how to do it and will set himself to get it done.”

Blessed with super natural talent, which is honed by a fitness regime comparable to none, India’s talisman has had a Bradmenesque year. Perhaps better. Sir Don hadn’t played the two shorter formats or faced the rigours of the IPL. Virat does what he does day in and day out. Add to it the pressure of expectations and the inhuman travel modern cricketers have to endure and we get a lid on what he has achieved in 2016.

Three very different moments help us decode the Virat phenom as he’s fast turning into. The first is when Jayant got his hundred. Virat, batting with him at the other end, was equally happy and while giving Jayant a hug said a few words. While we aren’t privy to what he said, it’s perhaps reasonable to conjecture that Jayant will forever remember his captain’s encouragement.

Second is his praise for Ashwin at the post match presentation. To say that Ashwin comes close to winning the man of the match award in almost every match he plays takes a lot of heart and is proof of the confidence he has in his ace match winner.

Finally is his modesty in placing the team first at all times. Not once will he talk of his double hundred in isolation. It was and is always about the team. The team needed him to buckle down and it was for the team that he needed to power on even after scoring the hundred.

Add to it his fearlessness in telling England that they were naive in playing three fast bowlers and they don’t know how to bat against quality spin and you will realize why Virat is in the position that he now is.

Finally, he also did mention that the win in Mumbai will allow him and the team to express them better in Chennai. In that one instant he dismissed talk of any complacency and proving that all he wants is to win cricket matches.

Chennai is a different Test match and for Virat the 3-0 result doesn’t matter when he steps out at the Chepauk. His desire to win is second to none and this is a team that hates coming second best. It is a team capable of doing well away from home. A fast bowling crop that has the ability to pick wickets overseas and backed by the world’s best spinner, Virat will lead a band of batsmen to England in 2018 believing that he can do it in alien conditions. And he will surely remember Jimmy Anderson’s riposte for he is one who rarely forgets, especially when the words aren’t kind to him or his team. The payback isn’t yet complete.