Evolution of Virat Kohli in T20 Cricket

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.

Duration Innings Run  Average Strke Rate 50s
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

Innings Runs Average 50s
Home Matches 13 437 39.72 3
Away Matches 26 1115 65.58 12

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.



भारत बनाम न्यूज़ीलैंड : मैच पूर्वावलोकन


भारतीय टीम पिछले कुछ महीनों से काफी अच्छे फॉर्म में है । उन्होने २०१६ में खेले गए ११ टी२० अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय मैचों मे से १० मैच जीत कर उम्मीदें कॉफ़ी बढ़ा दी हैं । भारतीय टीम टी२० विश्व कप में सबसे पसंदीदा टीम के रूप में देखीे जा रहीे है । एक अरब लोगों को निग़ाहें टी२० विश्व कप का इस उम्मीद से इंतज़ार कर रही हैं कि भारत एक बार फिर विश्व विजेता बनेगा ।

भारतीय टीम इस टूर्नामेंट का आगाज न्यूजीलैंड के खिलाफ १५ मार्च को नागपुर मे करेगी ।

ब्रेनडन मैकुलम जो टी२० के सबसे सफल बल्लेबाज हैं, उन्होंने टी२० विश्व कप से पहले संन्यास लेकर सबको चकित कर दिया । न्यूजीलैंड टीम का मनोबल इससे कमजोर तो हुआ लेकिन टीम किसी भी तरह से कमज़ोर नहीं हुई। उन्होंने इस बदलाव के लिए खुद को अच्छी तरह से तैयार किया था। ब्रेनडन मैकुलम जून २०१५ के बाद से ही न्यूज़ीलैंड के लिए टी२० क्रिकेट नहीं खेले । उनकी जगह की भरपायी मार्टिन गुप्टिल ने अच्छी तरह से की और कप्तानी की कमान केन विलियमसन ने अच्छे ढंग से संभाल ली ।

आएये एक नज़र उनके मजबूत और कमज़ोर पक्ष की और करें।

मजबूत पक्ष

न्यूजीलैंड, ब्रेनडन मैकुलम द्वारा प्रोमोटेड विस्फोटक और निडर ब्रांड का क्रिकेट खेलती है जो टी२० क्रिकेट के लिए अनुकूल है । मार्टिन गुप्टिल, कोलिन मुनरो और कोरी एंडरसन ने ब्रेनडन मैकुलम की इस विरासत को आगे बढ़ाया गया है। वे अपनी विस्फोटक बल्लेबाजी से मैच को किसी भी वक़्त न्यूजीलैंड के पक्ष में ला सकते हैं । उनके कप्तान केन विलियमसन, विराट कोहली की तरह ही रन बनाने की मशीन है । न्यूज़ीलैंड टीम सिर्फ अपने बल्लेबाजी की बदौलत ही विपक्षी टीम को मैच से बाहर करने की क्षमता रखती है। भारतीय गेंदबाजों को उन्हें रोकने के लिए अपना सर्वश्रेष्ठ प्रदर्शन करने की जरूरत पड़ेगी ।

एक और बात जो उनकी टीम को घातक बनाता है, वो है उनकी फील्डिंग। वे शानदार फील्डिंग करते हैं और हवा में से बॉल को लपक लेते हैं , वो अपनी फील्डिंग की बदौलत कम से कम ५ से १० रन बचा लेते हैं । टी२० क्रिकेट में अक्सर ही बहुत ही कम रनो से जीत या हार का फैसला होता है और जो टीम ज्यादा उम्दा फील्डिंग का मुज़ायरा करती है वो अक्सर ही मैच जीतने में सफल होती है ।

कमजोर पक्ष

न्यूज़ीलैंड टीम की कमज़ोरी ये है कि ना ही उन्हें भारतीय परिस्थितियों में खेलने का ज्यादा अनुभव है और ना ही वो अच्छे स्पिनरों को सफलतापूर्वक खेल पाते हैं । भारत और न्यूज़ीलैंड के बीच मैच नागपुर में खेला जाएगा जहाँ की पिच स्पिनरों की सहायता करने के लिए विश्व प्रसिद्ध है । अश्विन और जडेजा, न्यूज़ीलैंड की इस कमजोरी का फायदा उठाकर मैच को भारत के पक्ष में मोड़ सकते हैं ।

न्यूजीलैंड के पास एक से बढ़कर एक उत्कृष्ट स्विंग गेंदबाज हैं लेकिन वे इन भारतीय परिस्थिति में ज्यादा कामगर साबित नहीं होंगे। नाथन मैकुलम के रूप में उनके पास एक स्पिनर तो है लेकिन वो अब तक अपने आप को साबित नहीं कर पाये हैं, उनकी टीम को उत्कृष्ट स्पिनर की कमी जरूर खलेगी।

पिछले कुछ महीनों से टीम इंडिया का हर खिलाड़ी टीम की जीत में योगदान दे रहा है और टीम हर विभाग में उत्कृष्ट प्रदर्शन कर रही है । भारतीय टीम शानदार फार्म में है और एक लंबे अंतराल के बाद भारतीय टीम संतुलित लग रही है। भारतीय टीम के पास उत्कृष्ट बल्लेबाज, बेहतरीन फील्डर, अच्छे ऑलराउंडर और ऐसे गेंदबाज हैं जो न कि सिर्फ बीच के ओवरों में अच्छी गेंदबाज़ी करते है बल्कि शरूआत के ओवरों में विकेट लेते हैं और आखरी ओवरों में रन रोकने में सक्षम हैं । ऐसे गेंदबाज, २०११ के बाद शायद पहली बार भारतीय टीम को मिले हैं ।

भारतीय टीम अपने चित-परिचित मैदान और परिचित परिस्थितियों में मैच और खिताब जीतने के लिए तत्पर होंगे लेकिन भारतीय टीम को सतर्क रहना होगा । टी२० क्रिकेट में एक छोटी सी गलती भी बहुत भारी पर सकती है जो क़ि भारतीय टीम को प्रतियोगता से बाहर कर सकती है। भारतीय कप्तान महेंद्र सिंह धोनी आई सी सी टूर्नामेंट में अपनी बेहतरीन कप्तानी के लिए जाने जाते हैं और उनसे ये उम्मीद की जाती है की वो टीम को इन गलतियों से बचाते हुए टी२० वर्ल्ड कप में आगे ले जाएंगे ।

महत्वपूर्ण आँकड़े –

भारतीय टीम ने टी२०अंतरराष्ट्रीय मैचों में न्यूजीलैंड को कभी नहीं हराया है।

न्यूज़ीलैंड ने २००७ टी२० के बाद अब तक २५ में से सिर्फ ११ मैच जीते हैं जो की टेस्ट खेलने वाली टीमों में सिर्फ
जिम्बाब्वे और बांग्लादेश की तुलना में बेहतर है ।

मार्टिन गुप्टिल टी२० क्रिकेट में सबसे ज्यादा रन बनाने वाले तीसरे नंबर के खिलाड़ी हैं, उन्होंने ३४.७० के औसत और १२९.६४ की स्ट्राइक रेट से ५७ मैचों में १६६६ रन बनाये हैं।

२०१६ में विराट कोहली ने ११७.३३ की औसत, १३४.३५ के स्ट्राइक रेट के साथ ७ पारी में ४ अर्द्धशतक के साथ ३५२ रन बनाये हैं ।

ICC T20 World Cup: It’s not going to be that easy for India

From cricket experts to greats of the game to present and past captains, everyone is picking India as favourite for coming ICC T20 World Cup. It is being taken for granted that India will at least make it to semifinals of the tournament if not winning it but is it going to be as easy as it is perceived?

India is in group comprising of current ODI World Champions Australia, In-form New Zealand, unpredictable Pakistan and pumped up Bangladesh. India is also buoyed by recent success in T20 cricket: winning 10 out of 11 T20 matches played in 2016.

India beat Australia 3-0 and in the euphoria of white wash of Aussies, it is forgotten that it was almost second string team that Australia fielded in the series. The current Australian squad which has arrived for World Cup is a real threat to team India’s chances of winning tournament. Australia is packed with power hitter, all-rounders and bowlers who are T20 specialist. This team has vast experience of playing in Indian condition and they are no longer vulnerable against spinners; all thanks to their regular participation in IPL. Contest between India and Australia would certainly be fascinating. India will have to be at their best to beat Aussies at Mohali because Mohali is known for its lively pitch and lightning fast outfield which would favour Aussies.

New Zealand is a team which is full of flamboyant cricketers, retirement of B Mccullum has dented their morale but certainly has not made them any lesser team. M Guptil with his scintillating batting has taken place of B McCullum. Players like Kane Williamson is best in run making business and players like Ross Taylor, Colin Munro and Corey Anderson can change any match on its head. Their pace battery is also full of talented bowlers but they play against India at Nagpur which is famous for it’s slow and low pitch that will assist Indian spinners. New Zealand players are not good at playing spin and their vulnerability against spin was once again on display when they played against England in warm up match. English spinners exposed blackcaps vulnerability, giving just 45 runs in 8 overs and picking 4 wickets. Although conditions will definitely favour India but it is to be noted that India has never beaten New Zealand in T20 international.

When it comes to Indo-Pak match to be played at Eden Gardens, there is interesting stat to look into. Pakistan has never beaten India at World Cup but India’s record against Pakistan at Eden Gardens is just awful. India has never beaten Pakistan in limited over cricket at Eden gardens and out of total 11 international match played, India has managed to beat Pakistan just once at Eden Gardens. On current form, India is favourite against Pakistan but India has to be aware of which Pakistan comes out against India on that day. The one which can beat even World Champions on a given day or the one which can be easily beaten by associate nation. Team which has hold their nerve will win the match as Indo-Pak match is often more about nerves.

Bangladesh, which has qualified to Super 10, are buoyed by their recent success that they got in limited over cricket. They beat India comprehensively in last ODI series that they played and stretched India till the last before conceding defeat in Asia Cup T20 final. They have grown in confidence and have developed a belief under Mashrafe Mortaza that they can beat India. Dhoni said few days back that it takes 10-15 matches to develop a winning habit but only 10-15 minutes to lose the momentum. So any laxity by team India against Bangladesh may lead to an embarrassing defeat and can lead to downward spiral.

Other group has teams like South Africa and West Indies which consists of players like Ab de Villiers, Chris Gayle, D Bravo, D Sammy, D Miller, A Russell, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, who have taken T20 cricket to another level with their skills and super human effort. They have lighten up IPL with their performances in past 8 years. India is no longer alien to them, it’s their second home. They are threat to any team and especially to India and can ruin dream of a billion people in just few balls.

In five edition of ICC T20 World Cup, no host has lifted the trophy so far. India need to be at their best and will also need luck in their side to defy all odds and make it to the finals and win it. As it stands today, history and stats are against team India. but Dhoni would be last man on the earth to be intimated by history and stats, he lives in present and writes his own script and may be in this T20 World Cup he will write a script that all of India would be proud, may be another match winning six at Kolkata on 3rd April 2016 is in store for us but it will definitely not be easy .


This article has also been published here at sportskeeda.

Virat Kohli : The Showman of Indian Cricket

There is world of footballers which is filled with style, on the field and off the field show offs, dating supermodels, driving super cars  and then there is life of Indian cricketers where one is expected to be modest, humble and politically correct all the time. Football has seen many players who not only play well but also are style icons and have flamboyance in them which made them a brand that everyone looks up to. Beckham, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic are few players who fall in this category. They not only entertain people all over the world with their game but are also style icons and are loved by women/girls. Their fame makes even best in hollywood envy of them.

Indian cricket has seldom seen such players. Sachin, Dravid were great players but not style icons and definitely not the ones who would like to show off. Yuvraj Singh to some extent fit in both category. Dhoni on the other hand was successful both as player and as brand ambassador of many companies but we don’t associate flair and “i am the best attitude” with Dhoni.

Cricket has changed big time post the introduction of T20 cricket and so have the players. Indian cricket has found one such player who is not only best in his game but also has unmatchable flair and attitude and called as spoiled brat: the name of the player is Virat Kohli.

When Virat came in team India in 2008, a little bit of Delhi’s flair and attitude was visible but he was nowhere close to what he is now; perfect in batting, perfect in style, perfect in attitude. Hundreds of article have been written on his exceptional ability to chase targets and his century making spree, so i would like to dive into other aspects of Kohli.

Virat Kohli is more proud than what suits to a star like him, he loves the all the attention, he loves the camera, he has tattoos all over his body, has a different hairstyle for different seasons, has a perfect beard, he also has a fit body and six pack abs. Not long ago, he was dating a superstar girl from bollywood and unlike others he didn’t hide his love for her. He publicly acknowledged his love for her through his famous flying kiss after scoring half century against Sri Lanka. All this was never expected from an Indian cricketer. He is expected to be humble and down to earth guy who lets his game do all the talking and here is Kohli doing exactly opposite of what is prescribed.

There is one famous line that can be associated with Kohli : “Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him” . His performances, his antics makes sure that people will notice him.

When you see attitude of Kohli, it’s very unlike Indian attitude of “being humble” and “let the bat do the talking” attitude. He is in face of opposition all the time and reminds them that he is gonna beat the hell out of them. Ganguly was a player that came close to having such attitude but he was not as frequent as Kohli is in pricking opponents and sometimes even team-mates and fans.

Kohli has more of the Aussie DNA than Indian DNA and much like Ricky Ponting, Hayden and other great Aussies, he backs his attitude with great performances. When he says to a bowler that he is going to hit him all over the park, he means business and he does it more often than not. Grin, behind the helmet, that comes after he hits bowlers all over the park, defalte and hurts the bowlers. It makes them look like lesser mortals compared to immortal brilliance of Kohli.

In recently concluded India-Australia series, it was funny to watch Faulkner sledge Kohli, it seemed that Faulkner deliberately forgot that Kohli has more Aussie attitude than what current Aussie XI possess together and Faulkner, more obviously, paid price for it. May be someone like Ponting can give Kohli some fight in sledging battle but not this new generation of Aussies.

A decade or two earlier his behaviour would have been branded as obnoxious but for this generation he is audacious and represents the young India that is no longer under hangover of colonial supremacy. He represents the young India that doesn’t like tag of underdogs or aspiring champions,  they are impatient for success and sees champions tag as their well deserved right,

No one can forget Ganguly’s shirt waving at Lords balcony or V. Prasad’s send off to Aamir Sohail. These moments excites us and gives us happiness, Kohli gives us these moments in every series. He goes out, pricks the ego of opposition with his words, with his antics and then follows up with great performances and wins the match for India. The more is the pressure, the better is the performance of  Kohli. He never gives up and takes responsibility of taking team across the finishing line.

His frustration at his own failures, at his teammates’ failure doesn’t have a negative connotation. His emotions gets better of him because he is passionate for game, passionate for win and wants his teammates to do well.  As a captain, he expects same passion and zeal from his players. His attitude, visibly, rubs off on the players as well, which is evident from a much changed and aggressive attitude of team India under his captaincy.

His attitude had many critics in early stages of his career but slowly and gradually he won over them with his performances and with his respect for game. He is the showman of Indian cricket. He has become what Sachin Tendulkar was for previous generation: an inspiration. He is Sachin Tendulkar of this generation with flair of Cristiano Ronaldo and attitude of Muhammad Ali.

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”

~ Muhammad Ali 

this article was first published in Sportskeeda.