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Kohli the best youngster around

Virat Kohli, has matured a lot in the last year or so. Having seen him from close quarters, what I have noticed is a different approach to the game. He is a lot more focussed, and he is hungry to do well. Anil Kumble writes.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2011 00:14 IST
Anil Kumble

This young India team has done really well to seize the initiative in the One-day series against England. After what happened in England, not many would have thought India would lead 2-0 at this stage, but it must be remembered that the rub of the green wasn't always with the Indians in England.

Back in conditions where they have played all cricket, India have been a formidable force even without several regulars. I have been particularly impressed with the pace attack. The way they have bowled in the series has been heart-warming. Praveen, Vinay and Umesh Yadav have looked the part.

On slowish tracks, it's very important for a set batsman to go on and get a big score, but England haven't been allowed to do that. The Indian bowling has shown a lot more intent and purpose, and perhaps they have been somewhat helped by having a new ball with each end to operate with.

With the two balls staying harder for a greater duration of the game, you can see the ball skid off the surface and spin a bit more. When the pitch is two-paced and you have a newer ball in your hand, it becomes a little more difficult for the batsmen. The faster bowlers have caught the eye, but overall too, it has been a good performance with the ball. Batsmen too have come to the party. While the openers have failed in both matches, it wasn't surprising to see Dhoni continue his run of successes in Hyderabad. And on Monday, who better than Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir to take the team home in their own backyard!

The two Delhi boys batted brilliantly. It was nice to see Gautam get back among the runs because a long, hard season lies ahead. Virat, of course, has matured a lot in the last year or so. Having seen him from close quarters, what I have noticed is a different approach to the game. He is a lot more focussed, and he is hungry to do well. He understands what is required of him, and how to play according to the situation. It was heartening to see him bat through the innings and not throw his hand away. It is good for the individual and for the team if youngsters take it upon themselves to get the job done.

Monday's knock will have given him a lot of confidence, and I think one year of Test cricket will make him an even better player. He has got a very good head on his shoulders, which augurs well for India. He is probably the best 22-year-old batsman in international cricket today, and I say that after having given it a lot of thought.

India will look to seal the series at the first possible opportunity and the way I see it, there is no reason why they can't.

Hawkeye/Chivach sports

(The writer is the Karnataka State Cricket Association president and has a paid position as mentor with the Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL team)