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Virat Kohli reveals the secret behind his incredible form in South Africa

Virat Kohli said that his century against South Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday was special as he had to continuously change his game through the innings.

cricket Updated: Feb 08, 2018 18:16 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
South Africa vs India,Virat Kohli,Indian cricket team
Virat Kohli scored a brilliant century as India defeated South Africa to clinch the ODI series in Cape Town on Wednesday.(REUTERS)

In his early years, while Virat Kohli showed promise in stroke-play, technique and temperament, the one thing missing was big knocks, especially those that ended with him remaining unbeaten while taking the team to the finish.

The unbeaten 160 at Newlands in the third ODI against South Africa on Wednesday proved the India skipper has, of late, mastered the art of playing big knocks and seeing the team through, instead of getting to a mini-milestone and throwing his wicket away. A habit opener and childhood chum Shikhar Dhawan is struggling to get rid of.

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In the past 18 months, Kohli has four unbeaten centuries, whereas in eight years of ODI cricket before that, he had just eight.

PILING ON RUNS

In the current phase, he has nine unbeaten scores of 50 or more while in the eight years before that he had just 16 such scores.

The change is more apparent in Tests, where he has played long innings rather frequently in the past year-and-a-half – scoring all his six double centuries.

It bears testimony to his high level of fitness as well as his intensity, which is often criticised when it erupts on the field.

READ | Virat Kohli explains how he braved cramps to score fiery 160* vs South Africa

The India skipper admitted on Wednesday that if you take the intensity out of him, he will be left with nothing.

“I am a guy who likes to play with intensity. Once that is gone, I don’t know what I am going to do on the field. I try to protect that,” he said after the game.

Kohli’s fitness regimen has become the standard his teammates as well as promising players are aspiring for.

NO BURNOUT FEARS

Although former India captain Kapil Dev said last year he fears Kohli would burn out with the amount of emphasis he lays on fitness, the India skipper said he aims to play another four or five years of international cricket.

“Look, I am going to be 30 this year. The decision was in terms of extending the quality of cricket that you want to play at an older age as well. I want to play this kind of cricket even when I am 34-35. That’s why I train so much.

“I try to train as much as I can. Keep a check on my diet. Those things pay off on days like these. When the team needs it, and you stand up, and you are able to pull through.

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Kohli paced Wednesday’s knock well while wickets fell at the other end, carrying on till the end despite struggling with cramp on a very hot day. He pointed out that the wicket got slow after 30 overs, and that needed a bit of adjustment as well.

VIRAT’S FINAL FLOURISH

In the last five overs, just before he capped the India innings with a six and four, Kohli ran 16 runs for himself and 10 for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. That was after India had crossed 250 and boundaries were hard to come. He had already been at the crease for over three hours by then.

“I was pleased I was able to bat through because I was struggling with a bit of cramp in the 90s. Then wickets kept falling, and I decided to hit out because I thought I might not have enough energy left.

“You can push your body beyond limits. I experienced that today, and that was an amazing feeling. As an athlete you crave for days like these. These are the days that give you satisfaction.”

First Published: Feb 08, 2018 18:04 IST