Virat Kohli is in majestic touch, it doesn’t matter in which format he plays, he stamps his authority over bowlers but his authority and stupendous success in T20 cricket is to some extent surprising. He is neither a six hitter like Dhoni or Gayle nor he relies on unconventional shots like dilscoop, helicopter shot, reverse sweep, switch hit or the unimaginable shots that AB de Villiers plays in T20/ODI cricket. These unconventional shots and six hitting ability is considered as necessary ammunition to succeed in T20 cricket but Virat plays conventional shots in all three format of the game. He has managed to establish himself as most successful T20 player without taking risk and going for glory shots that others’ do.
What is most impressive about Virat Kohli is that he didn’t ditch his textbook shots to succeed in T20 cricket instead he learnt more textbook shots which made him a player who can hit all around the park and has option of playing two or three different kind of shots at every kind of ball thrown at him.
When he started to play for team India, he was more of a leg side player and was having problems facing deliveries aimed at 4th and 5th stump line. He not only recognised his shortcomings but also removed them successfully. Now, if someone watches Kohl playing those exquisite and breath-taking cover drives, they will never realise that once Kohli was predominantly onside player. Another aspect that he improved is, reducing percentage of dot balls in his innings, he has become a player who, in middle overs, scores most of the runs by running hard between the wicket rather than taking unnecessary risks and throwing away his wickets. This alone makes him a great threat for opponents because most of them wait for batsmen to take unnecessary risk to get their wicket. Evolving oneself by removing shortcomings is sign of a player who is destined for greatness and Kohli seems to be in cusp of greatness.
At start of his career, he used to bat lower down the order and was not able to contribute much for team’s cause. In 5 innings, that he played lower down the order in T20Is, he just managed to score 59 runs at an average of mere 29.50. Few years later, good sense prevailed, Dhoni and others in Indian team think tank realised that Kohli relies more on timing than on power so he is better suited to anchor the inning and set the tempo for the team rather than forcing him to bat lower down the order and burden him with power hitting to finish the inning. Considering this, Kohli was promoted to number three and as they say, rest is history.
At number 3 in T20 cricket, in 34 inning, he scored 1395 runs at a staggering average of 58.12. He has been a revelation at number 3 not just for Indian cricket but for the world. His year on year stats reveals how he is scaling new heights and improving as a cricketer.
|Jan 2010 to Dec 2011||5||87||21.75||119.17||0|
|Jan 2012 to Dec 2013||14||500||38.46||132.62||4|
|Jan 2014 to Dec 2015||9||429||71.50||135.75||5|
|Jan 2016 to 27 Mar 2016||11||536||107.20||133.66||6|
Another criteria, which can make any player great is his away matches performance and in this regard Virat Kohli is far ahead from his contemporaries
Since his arrival, India has won 29 matches, in which he scored 1169 runs at an average of 73.06. His match winning capability can be seen from the fact that in the 17 match that India won while chasing Virat Kohli has scored 737 run at a staggering average of 122.83, yes you have read it right that’s the batting average not the strike rate. Another fact that reflects his match winning capability is that out of his 15 T20 international 50s, 12 led to victory of team India. He relishes big moment and thrives under pressure. His love for big stages can be seen from the fact that in World Cup T20 since 2012, he has played 15 matches and scored 688 runs at an average of 76.44 with 8 fifties. He not only contribute big in India’s win but also remains till last to see India across the line. He has hit 8 match winning 50s while chasing and he remained not out in 6 of them proves that.
T20 career of Virat Kohli has just started, he had played just 42 T20Is but he has shown to the world what capabilities he possess to destroy the opponents with proper cricketing shots. In the era, where purist are hating T20 cricket because it is destroying the beauty of the game (as perceived by them). Virat Kohli has come as fresh air and once again restored the faith of purist that technique and conventional cricket matters the most to be successful at highest level and that’s true even in T20Is.
This article has been published here at sportskeeda.