Patience puts Virat ahead of where Sachin was in the 90s

  • N Ananthanarayanan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 02, 2016 15:57 IST
There are striking similarities between Kohli and Tendulkar in his first decade. (PTI Photo)

The Asia Cup this time is more a springboard than a standalone tournament as it is being played so close to the World Twenty20, which starts on Tuesday, March 8.

The unusual pitches in Bangladesh have helped seamers, forcing teams to focus extra hard.

Though India won their third game in a row, against Sri Lanka on Tuesday night, to storm into the final of the five-team contest, their batsmen too have struggled against pace bowlers, who have enjoyed the extra zip from the pitch.

Virat Kohli has been an exception, though, and India were grateful he pulled the team out of trouble for the second game in a row, scoring an unbeaten 56 to achieve a challenging chase.

On song

The unbelievable level at which the 27–year-old has continued to play this season has given the team the batting steel, his dominant displays reminiscent of Sachin Tendulkar in the 1990s.

In his last six T20 games --- he was rested for the Sri Lanka series in between --- Kohli has hit four half-centuries while missing out on another by a run against Pakistan.

While the other batsmen also contributed, especially a vastly improved Rohit Sharma, Kohli has constantly looked to set the agenda regardless of the quality of bowlers coming at him. There was assurance in how he tackled Pakistan’s young left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, who was on fire as he removed three top-order batsmen in his opening spell.

It was no different against Sri Lanka, as India had been reduced to 16/2.

There are striking similarities between Kohli and Tendulkar in his first decade (before Virender Sehwag arrived to provide firepower at the other end as well). If Tendulkar hit through the line against pace to straightaway convey aggression, Kohli effortlessly regains the upper hand from pumped-up bowlers by defending from the middle of the bat before getting on with his brilliant cover drives.

Patience pays

Manipulating the field to steadily pick runs and rotate the strike is another common area. However, Kohli stands out when it comes to patience -- be it the batsman at the other end taking his time to get into rhythm, or is dominating the strike, as was the case with Yuvraj Singh on Tuesday.

Kohli has been unstoppable since he sorted out his weakness outside off-stump that had led to a painful 2014 tour of England. That uncertain prod vanished and that saw him pile up 381 runs at an average of 76.20 in the One-day International series in Australia in January as he and Rohit plundered runs on good pitches.

He does confess that his batting is more attuned to hitting fours than sixes, but that didn’t matter as he averaged a stunning 199 in the T20 series which followed. He hit match-winning fifties in each of the three games.

The big question when Tendulkar and Co retired was about how the incoming batsmen would meld as a unit. In ODIs, Tendulkar’s cheap dismissals used to be invariably be followed by batting collapses.

The current set of batsmen is far more resilient in limited-overs cricket, which allows Kohli to do what he does best --- finish games.

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