He hopped, skipped and turned, joking with a teammate before pouncing on the ball to throw at an intense fielding session at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on Tuesday. Despite the winter chill, Virat Kohli's upbeat mood was apparent, like that of his teammates on the eve of the fourth
one-dayer against England.
What a difference a week can make? The defeat in the opening game in Rajkot and worries about the absence of a top-order anchor seem to have dissipated after Virat found his touch again, smashing an unbeaten 77 in Ranchi. The second successive thrashing in the series has left England deflated and their only hope is to cash in on the very English conditions in Mohali and Dharamsala --- venue for the last ODI --- to rally from 1-2 behind.
Curator Daljeet Singh expects the seamers to shine, although the surface was covered due to rain in the last three days and might even lack much life, as it is the middle of winter.
India had some concern after skipper MS Dhoni, like he was before the third ODI, hit on his thumb at the nets, this time by a Manpreet Gony delivery. He left for the hotel soon after but a team official said he was fine. Yuvraj Singh missed training due to sore throat.
Kohli had gone only six innings without scoring much, but after his tremendous 2012, it looked like ages. He said: "I wasn't feeling the same way many people were feeling about my form, to be honest. There is always a balance in international cricket where you will get a phase when you won't score in four-five games. You just got to stay calm because you know it is going to happen at some point or the other.
"It was a bit annoying because I was not getting out making too many mistakes. (But) If you get frustrated, you sort of tend to increase that lean phase, so you got to be positive, which I was, and I am glad I was able to come out with that knock." The Delhi batsman backed his temperament, which will again be tested in Mohali.
But he believes, unlike in the Test series defeat, Indian bowlers led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and backed by sharp fielding, are winning the early tactical battle. "They (England) showed great temperament in the Test series because you had a bit more time to see off the bowlers. But in one-day cricket, you have to play a few shots. Our bowlers were able to create good pressure and that's what made their batsmen make those mistakes they did.
"If you consistently put pressure on the batsman and if the wickets are a bit slow and they turn, you have to play shots. It gets a little difficult."
England skipper Alastair Cook, a big hit in the Tests playing a steady hand, was out trying to hit out in Ranchi. Without Cook's calming influence, the batting caved in at Kochi as well. The Indian top order, getting organised behind Virat, also cannot be good news for him. The visitors also desperately need Kevin Pietersen to fire if they are to keep the series alive. England may ring in the changes, dropping 'keeper Craig Kieswetter and the off-colour Jade Dernbach. Jos Buttler and paceman Meaker are expected to come in.
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