Virat Kohli is fast becoming a terror for bowlers on the domestic circuit. The ease and grace with which he unleashes a wide variety of shots force the fielding side to run for cover.
On Wednesday, it was the turn of the Tamil Nadu bowlers to be at the receiving end. Kohli's unbeaten 119 helped Delhi amass 258 for three on Day One at the Chepauk.
Compared to the opening match against Bengal, where he scored 173, the Tamil Nadu attack comprised three frontline spinners. It made little difference to Kohli. His confidence was on show as he unleashed booming drives when the spinners bowled full, and came up with horizontal shots when they were a little short.
Interestingly, the spin battery had looked threatening before Kohli came to the crease. Off-spinners R Ashwin and M Prabhu wove an intricate web around the openers Shikhar Dhawan and Chetan Sharma, in particular. They bowled an immaculate line to choke the flow of runs.
Dhawan though started off well with his trademark cover drives. But as the seamers gave way to the spinners, Sharma struggled to find the boundaries and rotate the strike. Dhawan (41) too lost his rhythm and was bowled round his legs by Ashwin. Sharma's (11) misery ended soon after as after edging one to the slips.
That brought Kohli and Mithun Manhas together and the script changed. Both batsmen showed a positive approach and went for their strokes, forcing Tamil Nadu skipper Dinesh Karthik to pull back the fielders who were hovering around the bat until then.
The duo dominated the second session but the hosts made a comeback after tea when C. Ganapathy trapped Manhas, the Delhi captain, leg before for a well-made 70. Another blow followed as Rajat Bhatia had to retire hurt after he was hit on his hand by a rising Ganapathy delivery.
In case Bhatia fails to bat on Thursday, the expectations on Kohli will increase manifold. He will need to stay out for long if Delhi are to reach a fighting total, one that may challenge a strong Tamil Nadu batting.
"I have worked hard on not getting out when nearing a hundred or after that. I need to bat long enough to help the team reach somewhere around 450-500," said Kohli.