No target too much: How Virat Kohli has emerged as India’s chase master
The numbers show that once Kohli goes past 30, he converts big. But to stay unbeaten in seven of those knocks also shows Kohli’s intent to see India past the finishing line.world t20 Updated: Mar 29, 2016 11:50 IST
Virat Kohli’s scores in the last 10 matches India have won chasing are 36*, 54, 57*, 72*, 50, 49, 56*, 41*, 55* and 82*. Those innings span two editions of the World Twenty20, a record chase in Sydney and two contrasting but great knocks against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.
Basically, the bigger the stage, the better Kohli plays. The numbers show that once Kohli goes past 30, he converts big. But to stay unbeaten in seven of those knocks also shows Kohli’s intent to see India past the finishing line. That alone makes him possibly the most complete finisher in this format.
Positions play a crucial role here though. Had it not been for his reluctance to move up the order, Dhoni could have had a better average and maybe better success rate at finishing matches. For Kohli, No 3 is the perfect spot to pace his innings. However, it came to him after a bit of fiddling around with the position.
The first T20I India won chasing with Kohli in the side was against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2010. Kohli, making his T20 debut, came in at No 5. He was promoted to opening the batting in only his third T20I, against South Africa in Durban. In the next T20I, against West Indies in 2011, Kohli came at No 3. Not until 2012 was Kohli given a long stint at that position. Kohli didn’t take much time to own it, batting 34 times and failing to cross single digits only four times.
Kohli’s biggest strength is that he trusts his abilities to such an extent he knows exactly when to switch gears. And batting at one down gives him enough time to structure his innings according to the situation. Kohli typically uses the first few deliveries to take quick singles and twos while gauging the pitch and the bowling. Once set, Kohli digs into his vast repertoire of shots, like he did in Mohali and Eden Gardens.
However, against a fiery Pakistan pace attack led by Mohammad Amir in Dhaka last month, Kohli also showed the maturity to cut down his shots to a bare minimum. That was the only instance in his 15 match-winning innings where his strike rate went below 100.
Kohli is at his best when he blasts those big hits to drastically bring down the asking rate. Take his previous highest score --- an unbeaten 72 --- against South Africa in the 2014 WT20 semi-final. Till 17, Kohli had not scored a boundary. But once he warmed up by hitting JP Duminy for a six, there was no stopping him. That pattern hasn’t changed much. In fact, the way things stand, Kohli seems to be improving every match.